Founded in 1794 by Katherine the Second with the
purpose of establishing a mighty seaport, fortifying southern
borders of the Russian Empire, Odessa has surpassed Her Majesty
expectations. Soon Odessa has become one of the biggest and
wealthiest cities of Russia. Attracted by Porto Franco business
conditions and benevolent climate, migrants and merchants from
European and Asian countries, made a beautiful and prosperous
home in Odessa. Since then the city was doomed to flourish,
thanks to good business sense, positive and optimistic vision
and sharp wit of its inhabitants. Neither bureaucrats, nor wars
or famine, even Soviet regime, could not exterminate a special
spirit of the city. Nowadays it is one of the biggest cities
and largest seaport of Ukraine. City population is 1.1 million
people. Odessa has well developed business, travel and entertainment
infrastructure and is deservedly popular for travel and business
alike. The city itself lies on the Black Sea coast in the Bay
of Odessa. Odessa occupies territory of 160 sq. km. The climate
is moderately continental and comparatively dry, with a short
mild winter and long hot summer. There are more than 290 sunny days in the year. Since Odessa
region is drawn out along the meridian, the climate in the narrow
- 30-40 km. - stretch along the coast is practically ideal,
with the soft tang of the sea mixing with the scent of the steppes.
The winter average temperature hovers around freezing. Falling
snow and minus 10 Celsius is a really rare occurrence, which
is usually replaced by a thaw. In summer average temperature
is 25 Celsius, though in summer daytime can get up over 35 Celsius.
Air Connections: Odessa has air connection with
Vienna (Austrian Airlines and Air Ukraine International), Warsaw
(LOT), Istanbul, Moscow, Athens, Aleppo, Dubai, Yerevan, Larnaca,
Tel Aviv, Tbilisi, Kyiv, Chisinau. The summer schedule may include
some other domestic and international flights. Credit Cards and Cash Exchange: There are no problems
with cash exchange in Odessa like everywhere else in Ukraine
- exchange booths are scattered all around the city and area,
many of them work till late night. US Dollars, Euro and Russian
Rubles are exchanged by majority of exchange booths, though
some of them operate with many other stable currencies (up to
25 currencies). Please, note damaged banknotes might not be
accepted. Situation with credit cards and traveler's checks
has grown much better lately - many banks in Ukraine have started
operating with them. Though still most popular credit cards
are Visa and Master Card. American Express, Discovery, Diners
are usually not accepted on the territory of Ukraine. For cashing
traveler's checks you will need your travel passport and receipt
of checks purchase. Places to see:
Arcadia is the most developed beach in Odessa. It looks gorgeous in summer - plenty of flowers, shady trees, numerous restaurants and cafes with tidy sea view terraces. Besides swimming and sunbathing, you can rent paddleboats, rowboats and other sailing vehicles for moderate prices. If you are taking kids, check out Tropicana Children World - probably, they would like it. There are several outdoor summer nightclubs by the beach in Arcadia, such as Ibiza, Itaka, Stereo, Pago and Western. Each of them has its own architect style, but they all have common atmosphere of fun and joy. It is the best place to relax and enjoy the company of your friends.
The University Botanical Gardens:
Beautiful gardens were founded in 1867 and transferred
to Frantsuzsky Boulevard (where they are nowadays) in 1880.
Rare and extinct plant species may be encountered in the gardens,
over 800 varieties of trees and plants from different climatic
zones of CIS and other countries grow here. With the Sea as
a background, the beauty of the gardens is immense. And what
is really amazing, it is how the staff manages to keep it in
perfect condition on shoestring budget and no salaries. Probably,
they truly love these gardens.
Deribasovskaya Street is the very heart of Odessa. What gives Deribasovskaya its unique character is magnificent architecture, crowds of people leisurely sitting on terraces of numerous cafes and restaurants, perfect cobblestones, no vehicle traffic and big shady linden trees. Deribasovskaya leads to the City Garden with its fountain, old summerhouse and sculpture of lion and lioness. City Gardens were laid out shortly after the foundation of Odessa and were its first park. Visiting the city garden you will see the monument to Leonid Utyosov at the main entrance . Utyosov was a singer, an actor, the founder and the leader of the most famous jazz orchestra in Odessa. He was famous for his extraordinary live character and love of music. There is a telephone booth opposite the monument where you can listen to some of his most famous songs (over 40) to your choice.
This monument located in the southern part of Primorsky Boulevard near the City Council is called simply "The Cannon". This unusual monument is a cannon on a wooden gun carriage, it is a battle trophy of the Crimean War of 1854. The cannon was dismounted from the British frigate "Tiger" that took part in the siege of the city during the Crimean War.
The temple has five domes and a high belfry. The main relic of the Assumption Cathedral is the wonder-working icon of the Most Holy Virgin of Caspersk that saved the city from complete destruction during the Crimean War in October 1855.
Odessa Film Studio
Odessa Film studio is often called the Black Sea Hollywood . It was founded in 1919 and is now one of the three Ukrainian film studios. Lots of famous films have been created by this studio. It's located in Frantsuzsky Boulevard.
The cobblestone and tall acacia trees on this boulevard are most reminiscent of Old Odessa. This place was home to Odessa's wealthy merchants in old days. Now the Boulevard is one of the most picturesque resort districts in Odessa. The cable car rides from the Boulevard down to the Lanzheron Beach. It is fun and costs less than 2 hryvnia. The steep hill parts the Frantsuzsky Boulevard from 3 beaches beneath. Paths and stairs lead downhill to the Sea through a green zone closed to vehicle traffic. It is a favorite sight for picnics.
The Opera House known not only in Ukraine, but in Europe, heard the singing of Ukrainian Shalyapin and Sobinov, saw performances of Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov. It is one of the best in Europe, goes after Vienna Opera House from architecture standpoint. Exquisite inside decor in the style of Viennese baroque blended with elements of the Italian Renaissance and French rococo, sculptural groups taken from Greek mythology, the stucco moldings and guilt friezes combined with the red velvet of the seats and boxes - all this tends to create a special atmosphere. There is a viewing platform on the roof of this tremendous building from which the whole city could be observed. Now the Theatre is under renovation but performs on normal basis.
Primorsky Boulevard and Potemkin Steps
The Potemkin Stairs are a formal entrance into the city from the direction of the sea. Sure, each city has it own place of mostly pronounced originality. For Odessa, no doubt, it will be Potemkin Stairs. The stairs leading from Primorsky Boulevard down to the sea were constructed from 1837 through 1841 to the design of the architect F. Bofford. This imposing monument numbers 192 stairs arranged in ten flights and flanked by two-meter thick parapets. The difference in width between the highest (13.4 m) and the lowest (21.6 m) flights produces an optical illusion that enhances the grandeur of the structure. Originally, the stairs were faced with gray Trieste sandstone. With time, however, the sandstone weathered and was replaced with granite. The famous Potemkin Stairs serve as a symbol of the city. It has recently been complemented with ramp over bridges to extend as far as the Novy Pier, where a modern structure of the new seaport is located on a high platform. Memorial plagues state that it was on precisely this spot that the first Odessa buildings were founded in 1794. The famous monument to Duke de Richelieu overlooks steps of 142m length. Looking down from the top, the steps themselves become invisible, only the landings can be seen. On either side of the stairs there is a stone parapet and the two appear to run parallel. This, however, is an optical illusion, because in reality the width of the stairs of the bottom flight is double that of the top flight. At the bottom of the steps is the city's brand new passenger ship terminal and convention center. Shady platens and chestnut trees, numerous benches and magnificent sea view make the Primorsky Boulevard irresistible both for tourists and Odessa residents People coming here stay for hours - gazing at the Sea Port full of ships, boats and yachts, enjoying shade and sea breeze. At the west end of the Boulevard is Count Vorontsov Palace and a Grecian colonnade which overlooks the harbor and also provides a fine view of the bay. The Colonnade gives Odessa, named after an ancient Greek colony, a look and feel of Athens. Next to the palace is so called 'Piece of Old Odessa" - steep bridge, the well and sculpture of girl with a jar. Newlyweds traditionally come here to have their pictures taken.
Duke de Richelieu
Another must-see in Odessa: the monument to Duke Richelieu, Governor General of the territory, city mayor from 1803 to 1814, it has become one of the symbols of Odessa. The monument is the most outstanding work of the great Russian sculptor Ivan Martos who finished it in 1828. The statue depicts the duke in the antique way. You can see bronze bas-reliefs on the pedestal representing Trade, Justice and Agriculture. The inscription on the front side says, "The grateful inhabitants of all estates of this city have erected this monument". The Odessa residents call this monument simply "Duke".
The new Dolphin Stadium has become wildly popular with family in Odessa and tourist alike. The show features 4 performing Bottlenose Dolphins and 4 sea lions.
Port of Odessa
The port of Odessa is a grand complex comprises ramp bridge across the railway lines, warehouses on the Novy Pier and a new building for the seaport. The architects V. Golovin and V. Kremlyakov succeeded in creating a modern transport center, the "sea gates" of Odessa. The specific arrangement and the form of the structural elements, sloping galleries and transparent surfaces produce a peculiar effect as if the structure is reaching the sea horizon. The spacious main hall brightly lit by the sun through large windows is particularly impressive.
St. Nickolas Cathedral
This ultramodern church is the first thing the sailors and passengers see from arriving ships. It was built recently and is dedicated to St. Nickolas - the patron saint of all sailors and of the city, too.
Privoz is one of the biggest farmers' markets in the world and rivals those in Istanbul and Mexico City. As the saying goes, you can find anything up to and including nuclear devices at the Privoz, but a better description is everything that is edible and in season in the ClS, plus a whole lot more. Although lanes are devoted to construction materials, clothes and consumer goods, the Privoz is best shopped for food.
The city zoo was founded in 1938. You can see lots of animals and birds from all continents there. There is also an aquarium representing the fish population of the underwater realm. It's located next to the park opposite to Privoz central market. The Zoo is 10 minutes walk from the railway station.
The main entrance to the Philharmonic Society includes a marble staircase and marble columns and is made in the style of early Renaissance. The building itself is an architectural monument of the 19th century. It is considered to be one of the masterpieces of the Russian architecture. It was built for the city stock exchange in 1899. You can admire both the exterior and the interior of the building. The hall that seats over 1,000 spectators is 15 m high.
The Archeological Museum one of the oldest in Ukraine, was founded in 1825. Odessa Archeological Museum was the first museum founded in the city and is one of the oldest in CIS. There are more then 160,000 exhibits providing excellent illustration of North Black Sea coast - from the first appearance of man up to the emergence of the ancient Russian state, Kiev Russ. Museum displays ancient artifacts - collection of priceless ornaments and jewelry from the 5th to the 1st centuries B.C. and coins dating from the 6th century B.C. The excavation of Olbia, Khersonesus, Panticapea, Tyras and other ancient Greek colonies on the Black Sea has mainly contributed these outstanding collections. The "Statue of Laocoon" located in front of the Odessa Archaeological Museum. This marble statue is a unique copy of the Rhodes artists.
Fine Arts Museum
The building of the museum used to be the palace of Count Pototsky and was raised in 1805. Exquisitely ornamented halls with painted ceilings, beautiful parquet floors, made of rare kinds of wood and fine marble mantelpieces lend an elegant atmosphere to high class painting collections. The Museum has an amazing collection of icons from the 14th -15th century and 18th-19th century paintings - Aivazovsky, Repin, Vrubel, Serov, Savrasov and Kramskoy. Early 20th century paintings are represented as well, including works of Rerich, Benz, Somov, Serebriakova, Kandinski.
Museum of Literature
If you study literature this museum will be of a great interest. The museum collection amounts to 40,000 exhibits. It represents the works of Ukrainian, Russian, Polish, Jewish, Bulgarian, etc. writers and illustrates their links with Odessa. The list includes about 300 names. The building used to be the residence of Count Gagarin. The building is completely restored and is really beautiful.
The building was originally the English Club raised in 1842. The museum has a vast collection, which traces the history of local shipbuilding and navigation from ancient times to present days. The exhibits include automatic models, diagrams, and instruments, which are inherent to ship's bridges and radio cabins. There is an imitation of a ship's sway, the sound of waves.
Museum of Partisan Glory
More than 400 km of catacombs are buried beneath Odessa. Both partisans and smugglers have used them over the years, and the part of the catacombs which resistance fighters used in 1941 is open to the public. Down in the catacombs, the first thing that strikes you is an absolute darkness, intense humidity and profound silence. So, definitely it is not for the claustrophobic.
Western and Oriental Arts Museum
This museum is very prestigious, one of the finest in Europe. It contains original paintings from such artists as Michelangelo, Peter Paul Rubens, David Teniers, Sebastian del Piombo, Merisi da Caravaggio and Frans Hals to name a few. The museum was founded in 1924 on the basis of private collections in the premises of a wealthy Odessa merchant. The museum has awesome collection of European masterpieces and antiquities from Italy, Holland, France and Flounders. The collection includes replicas of antique sculpture, Ancient Greek ceramics and Roman glassware. The oriental art is represented by the works from China, Japan, India, Mongolia and Tibet. The interior is richly decorated: molded ceilings and parquet floors made of valuable species of wood.
The railway station was built in 1952. There is a sculpture
over the main entrance representing soldiers and workers. An
inscription says "Glory to the Hero-City". There is
a spacious lobby with booking offices, cafeteria and kiosks
on the first floor and waiting rooms on the second floor.