Although the settlement existed on this site since ancient times, the history of present day Odessa began in the 14th century, when Tatar fortress of Khadzhibey was established there. Later, it passed to Lithuania-Poland and, in 1764, to Turkey.
The fortress was stormed by the Russians in 1789 and ceded to Russia in 1791. The new fortress was built in 1792-1793, and, in 1794, a naval base and commercial quay were added.
In 1795, the port was named Odessa in honor of the ancient Greek colony of Odessos which was located nearby.
The late 18th and the early 19th centuries were the golden age of Odessa, the peak of its development and richness. This time is closely associated with the name of one of the founders of the town, Duke de Richelieu from France.
More Historical Facts…
Among the founders of Odessa were Field Marshal Suvorov, Count Potyomkin-Tavriyskiy and a number of notable Russians, including De Ribas, Devolan and Lanzheron.
Thanks to them, Odessa became known throughout the world as a gate to a large inland empire - the Russian Empire. The town was lucky enough to enjoy great deal of freedom under Russian rule.
Odessa was allowed to breathe politically because of its advantageous geographical location, convenient sheltered inlet, fertile black soil and eclectic mix of population.
Russian Emperor Alexander I felt that the newly conquered lands in the south of the empire needed a progressive administrator.
He chose Duke Arman de Richelieu as a governor in 1803. Though a foreigner, Richelieu became a zealous Odessa booster, created favorable conditions for development of the town and trade.
That included convincing the government to cut tariffs to only a quarter of what they were at other ports. A fifth of the revenue from the money saved on the lower tariffs went toward developing of Odessa.
The prosperity trickled down to all levels of society, giving Odessa residents a relatively high standard of living.
Count Lanzheron, who took over as a governor from Duke de Richelieu in 1815, bolstered Odessa prosperity by convincing Russian government to establish a duty-free international trade zone in the city. Odessa gained a reputation as European city.
During the 19th century, the growth was rapid, especially after the construction of the railway in 1866.
Odessa became the third city of the Russian Empire and Russia’s second most important port after St. Petersburg; grain was the main export commodity.
It was one of the main centers of the Russian Revolution of 1905, the scene of the mutiny on the warship Potemkin. Sergey Eisenstein’s classic movie “Battleship Potemkin” was filmed there in 1925.
The city suffered heavy damage in the World War II during its prolonged and unsuccessful defense against German and Romanian forces.
Odessa age (200 years) makes it a relatively young city. By comparison, Kiev is 1,500 years; old Kiev and Lviv are even older.
Odessa is an important cultural and educational center of Ukraine. The city has a university, founded in 1865, and numerous other institutions of higher education. Local research establishments are headed by Filatov Institute of Eye Diseases.
There are a lot of of museums and theaters, including an opera house and a ballet theater, dating from 1809. The seashore south of the harbor is a popular resort area, with numerous sanatoriums and holiday camps.
This wonderful city standing on the Black Sea coast is often called “the Pearl of the South”. Odessa has a unique architectural style and ambiance.
Fortunately, most of the marvelous buildings constructed in the 18th and 19th centuries were only partially damaged during the World War II.
Locals are known to be hospitable, warmhearted, independent, proud - and to have a sophisticated sense of humor.
The city holds festivals of humor and satire every year on April 1. And when the festivals are held, local businesses give their employees the day off.
Odessa places of interest
Deribasovskaya Street. This street located in the heart of the city was glorified by poets and writers. April 1, the Parade of Humor is held here.
It is a popular place for walking. You can buy paintings made by local artists and a variety of souvenirs. The street was named in honor of Joseph Deribas - the first mayor of Odessa.
Primorsky (Seaside) Boulevard. It is one of the most beautiful streets in Odessa, a favorite walking place of locals and tourists. This pedestrian boulevard runs parallel to the cliff above the beach.
Among a number of classical and early Italian Renaissance buildings, forming a grand sea front of Odessa, the hotel “London” occupies a special place. The main attractions is Potemkin’s (Seaside) Stairs (1841).
The Opera House. The building of the Opera and Ballet Theater in Odessa is one of the most beautiful in the world. This richly decorated building was constructed in the Renaissance style with some Baroque elements. Tchaikovsky Lane, 1.
Hotel “London”. A. Kuprin, A. Chekhov, T. Dreiser, V. Mayakovsky, L. Utyosov and other celebrities of the 19th-20th centuries stayed in this legendary hotel. Today, the hotel remains one of the most prestigious hotels in Odessa. Primorsky Boulevard, 11.
The Flat House. This old Odessa house attracts tourists because of its unique architecture feature. If you look at it from a certain angle, there is an illusion that the building has only one wall - the facade. Vorontsovsky Lane, 4.
Panteleimon Monastery. This monastery was founded by Greek monks from Mount Athos. The five cupolas of the monastery, unusual sculpting and mosaic on the walls reflect a mixture of different architectural styles of the 19th century. Panteleimonovskaya Street, 66.
Transfiguration Cathedral. It is the main Orthodox church in Odessa. The cathedral was rebuilt from scratch in 2002 after it had been blown up by Soviet authorities in 1936. Sobornaya Square, 3.
Odessa archaeological museum
Potocki Palace (the Museum of Art). It is a classic aristocratic mansion. The family of Polish magnates Potocki owned the palace until the end of the 19th century.
In the basement of the building, there is an artificial cave with a grotto, which is connected by underground tunnels with the Catacombs (tours must be booked in advance).
The Art Museum was opened in 1899. The exhibition presents a lot of paintings of Ukrainian and Russian artists of the 16th-19th centuries. Sofievskaya Street, 5-a. Opening hours: 11:00-18:00, day off - Tuesday.
The Literary Museum. It is one of the most visited museums in Odessa located in the palace of the 19th century. Each of the 20 halls reflects the artistic image of the decade, to which it is devoted.
In the courtyard, there is a sculpture garden with flower beds, fountains, medieval statues, and modern comic miniature bronze monuments in honor of the heroes of Odessa folklore. Lanzheronovskaya Street, 2. Opening hours: 10:00-17:00 (winter - 16:00), day off - Monday.
The Archaeological Museum. It is one of the first museums open in Ukraine. The collection consists of over 150 thousand items: historical and cultural monuments of the Northern Black Sea region, Ancient Greece and Rome. The museum has the best collection of Egyptian antiquities in Ukraine.
In the “Golden Treasury”, genuine items made of precious metals are exhibited, the oldest of them date from the beginning of the second millennium BC. Lanzheronovskaya Street, 4. Opening hours: 10:00-17:00, day off - Monday.
The Museum of Sound. The museum has an exclusive collection of historical audio equipment, an exposition of sound carriers of all generations, live music club, professional recording studio, DJ school. Zhukovsky Street, 13. Opening hours: 10:00-22:00 (Saturday, Sunday - 2:00), day off - Monday.
The Museum of Modern Art. This museum was founded by the philanthropist V. Morokhovsky in 2008. The basis of the exhibition is a unique collection of the “second wave of Odessa avant-garde” of M. Knobel, greatly expanded during the existence of the museum.
Also, the museum has an exhibition hall and a gallery where exhibitions of contemporary art, conferences, and various art projects are hosted. Frantsuzsky Boulevard, 8. Opening hours: 12:00-19:00 (Saturday - 18:00), day off - Wednesday, Sunday.
Other places of interest
The Factory of Sparkling Wines. This factory was opened in 1899 when the first batch of champagne “Henry Roederer” was produced. The tour introduces visitors with all stages of the process of making wine. After your tour, you can taste sparkling wines. Frantsuzsky Boulevard, 36.
The Factory of Cognacs. It is the oldest enterprise of this sector in Ukraine. The factory was founded in 1863. The tour offers a visit to the factory floor, as well as cognac tasting. Melnitskaya Street, 13.
Arcadia. It is the main resort area in the city, the center of Odessa night life. Arcadia is known for its modern, well-equipped beaches and plenty of restaurants, nightclubs and other entertainment establishments operating in the holiday season around the clock.
A lot of hotels, sanatoriums, as well as a hydrotherapy and resort polyclinic are located on the territory of the park area near the sea. Genoa Street.
The Dolphinarium “Nemo”. This recreational complex is located in the center, on “Langeron” beach. Visitors can swim with dolphins, have dolphin therapy sessions.
The exhibition of the aquarium presents inhabitants of fresh and marine waters. The exotarium presents amphibians and reptiles.
Also, you can see a unique collection of tropical butterflies - one of the best in Ukraine. “Langeron” beach, 25. Opening hours: 10:00-19:30 (weekdays), 10:00-23:00 (weekends), shows: 12:00, 15:00, 18:00.
Odessa has a lot of different hotels and mini-hotels. According to visitors’ reviews, the following hotels are among the best on the quality of services provided.
Hotel “Royal Street”. This hotel is located in the heart of the city, on the pedestrian Deribasovskaya Street, 500 meters from the Black Sea shore. The building is a monument of architecture of the early 19th century.
24 comfortable rooms of different categories. It is not allowed to smoke in the rooms. The rooms are soundproofed and equipped with an air-conditioning, safe, Wi-Fi.
The additional services: car rental, transfer. Breakfast is served in the popular restaurant “Kompot” located just opposite the hotel entrance. Deribasovskaya Street, 27. Phone: +380 48 777 29 99.
Hotel “California”. It is located in the historical and cultural center, a five minute walk from Deribasovskaya Street.
44 rooms of different categories. Each room has an individual climate control, safe, free Wi-Fi.
The additional amenities include a beauty salon, dry cleaning, laundry, booking tickets, transfer, car rental. The restaurant “California” (European and traditional Odessa cuisine). Yevreyskaya Street, 27. Phones: +380 48 796 33 33, +380 48 796 63 01.
Hotel “OK Odessa”. This hotel complex is located in the central resort area of Odessa, near Arcadia Beach.
198 rooms of different categories. All rooms are equipped with air conditioning, Wi-Fi. The hotel has meeting rooms, a fitness room. There is a restaurant with a large summer terrace (Russian and Ukrainian cuisine). Gagarin Plateau, 5. Phone: +380 482 63 94 34.
Hotel “London”. This hotel has 160 years of history. Its beautiful facade, marble staircases, stained glass windows give a feeling of luxury. Kuprin, Chekhov, Dreiser, Mayakovsky, Utesov and other celebrities of the 19th - 20th centuries stayed in this hotel.
The hotel can be found in the center of Odessa, on Primorsky Boulevard. You will have a free access to a 25-meter swimming pool, Finnish sauna, gym.
There are spacious rooms of different categories with elegant furniture in classic style. Each room has a climate control, free Wi Fi, safe. There is a restaurant with European and Ukrainian cuisine.
The additional services: translation services, ATM, laundry, dry cleaning, booking of railway and air tickets, transfer, car rental. Primorsky Boulevard, 11. Phones: +380 48 738 01 02 +380 48 738 01 03, +380 48 738 01 11.
Hotel “Continental”. This business hotel stands in the historical center, on Deribasovskaya Street. The four-storey building of the hotel is an architectural monument of the 19th century. The hotel has 32 spacious, comfortable rooms.
The restaurant “Voyage” offers Italian and Mediterranean cuisine as well as traditional Ukrainian cuisine.
The additional amenities include a sauna, swimming pool, solarium, city tours, beauty salon, fitness center, Wi-Fi, transfer, car rental. Deribasovskaya Street, 5. Phones: +380 482 21 03 99, +380 482 21 01 55.
Hotel “Otrada”. The hotel is located in the prestigious district of Odessa on French Boulevard near Otrada Beach. The building was constructed in the late 19th century by the architect Rossi. 26 rooms, a restaurant and lounges have antique and classic Italian furniture.
The restaurant offers Italian and Ukrainian cuisine. The price includes a fitness center and swimming pool.
The additional services: sauna, gym, solarium, beauty salon, Wi-Fi, currency exchange, excursions, yacht rental, car rental, booking of railway and air tickets, transfer. Uyutnaya Street, 11. Phone: +380 482 33 06 98.
Hotel “The Black Sea “Rishelyevskaya”. You can find this hotel in the historic center. There are 216 comfortable rooms of different categories. All the rooms have an air conditioning, mini-bar, cable TV.
There are three restaurants (European, Ukrainian, Japanese cuisine). The price includes swimming pool.
The additional amenities include billiards, conference room, Wi-Fi, beauty salon, massage room, gym, car rental, tours, currency exchange. Rishelyevskaya Street, 59. Phones: +380 482 30 09 04, +380 48 731 47 23.
Hotel “Lermontovskiy”. It is a modern hotel situated in a cozy corner of the old city, close to the sea. 33 comfortable rooms equipped with an air conditioning, cable TV. There are special rooms for non-smokers.
There is a restaurant (Odessa cuisine). The additional amenities include a sauna, conference room, Wi-Fi, excursions, booking of train and airline tickets. Lermontov Lane, 2. Phones: +380 48 717 78 77, +380 48 717 78 79.