Although a settlement existed on this site in ancient times, the history of present day Odessa began in the 14th century when Tatar fortress of Khadzhibey was established there. It later passed to Lithuania-Poland and, in 1764, to Turkey.
The fortress was stormed by the Russians in 1789 and ceded to Russia in 1791. New fortress was built in 1792-1793, and, in 1794, the naval base and commercial quay were added. In 1795, the port was named Odessa for the ancient Greek colony of Odessos, the site of which was believed to be in the vicinity.
The late 18th and the early 19th centuries were the “golden age” for the town, the peak of its development and richness. These times are connected with the name of one of the founders of the town, France’s Duke de Richelieu.
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The founders included Field Marshal Suvorov, Count Potyomkin-Tavriyskiy and a number of notable Russians, including De Ribas, Devolan and Lanzheron.
They did such a good job of laying the foundation for the port that it has become known throughout the world as a gate to large inland empire. The town was lucky enough to enjoy great deal of freedom under Russian rule. The central government kept its thumb on the vast majority of its vast empire.
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 the newly won lands in the south needed a progressive administrator.
He chose Duke Arman de Richelieu as governor in 1803. Though a foreigner, Richelieu became a zealous Odessa booster. He went all out to create favorable conditions for development 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 the new city.
The prosperity trickled down to all levels of society, giving Odessa city residents good standard of living. Count Lanzheron, who took over as governor from Duke de Richelieu in 1815, bolstered Odessa’s prosperity by convincing Russian government to establish duty-free international trade zone in the city. Good times in the city during that era led to Odessa gaining a reputation as European city.
During the 19th century, the growth was rapid, especially after the coming of railways in 1866. Odessa became the third city of Russia and Russia’s second most important port after St. Petersburg; grain was its principal export.
It was one of the chief centers of the Russian Revolution of 1905 and was the scene of the mutiny on the warship Potemkin; Sergey Eisenstein’s classic film Potemkin was made 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’s city age - 200 years - makes it a young city for this part of the world. 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 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 opera house and 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”. The city has special architectural style and ambiance.
Fortunately, most of the marvelous buildings that went up in Odessa during the 18th and 19th centuries were only partially damaged during the World War II. That means Odessa retains the charm of yesteryear.
Local residents are known to be hospitable, warmhearted, independent, proud - and to possess 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 celebrated by poets and writers; the street runs April 1 Parade of Humor.
On other days, it is a popular place for walking, there is a sale of paintings and souvenirs. In the square, there are some interesting sculptures. The street was named in honor of the first Odessa mayor Joseph Deribas.
Primorsky (Seaside) Boulevard. One of the most beautiful streets of 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 style and early Italian Renaissance buildings, forming a grand sea front of Odessa, the hotel “London” occupies a special place. The main point of interest of Primorsky Boulevard is Potemkin’s (Seaside) Stairs (1841).
Opera House. The building of the Opera and Ballet Theater is one of the most beautiful in the world. This richly decorated building was constructed in Renaissance style with Baroque elements. Tchaikovsky Lane, 1.
Hotel “Londonskaya”. The legendary hotel where A. Kuprin, A. Chekhov, T. Dreiser, V. Mayakovsky, L. Utyosov and other celebrities of the 19th-20th centuries stayed. Today, the hotel remains one of the most prestigious hotels in the city. Primorsky Boulevard, 11.
The Flat House. Old Odessa house attracting 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. The monastery was founded by Greek monks from Mount Athos. 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. The main Orthodox church of the city, rebuilt from scratch in 2002 after it was blown up by a decision of the Soviet authorities in 1936. Sobornaya Square, 3.
Odessa archaeological museum
Potocki Palace (Museum of Art). The 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 grotto, which is connected by underground tunnels with the Odessa Catacombs (tours must be booked in advance).
The Art Museum was opened in 1899. The exhibition presents paintings of Ukrainian and Russian artists of the 16th-19th centuries. Sofievskaya Street, 5-a. Opening hours: 11:00-18:00, day off - Tuesday.
Literary Museum. 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 museum’s 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.
Archaeological Museum. One of the first museums 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 in Ukraine collection of Egyptian antiquities.
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.
Museum of the Sound. The museum has exclusive collection of historical audio equipment, exposition of all the generations of sound carriers, live music club, professional recording studio, DJ school. Zhukovsky Street, 13. Opening hours: 10:00-22:00 (Saturday, Sunday - 2:00), day off - Monday.
Modern Art Museum. The museum was founded by philanthropist V. Morokhovsky in 2008. The basis of the exhibition is the unique collection of the “second wave of Odessa avant-garde” of M. Knobel, greatly expanded during the existence of the museum.
The museum also 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
Sparkling Wines Factory. The factory was opened in 1899 when the first batch of champagne “Henry Roederer” was produced. The tour introduces visitors with all the technological process. After the tour, you can taste sparkling wines. Frantsuzsky Boulevard, 36.
Cognac Factory. The oldest enterprise of this sector in Ukraine. The factory was founded in 1863. The tour offers visit to the factory floor, as well as tasting of cognacs. Melnitskaya Street, 13.
Arcadia. The resort area of the city, the center of 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.
Various hotels, sanatoriums, as well as hydrotherapy and resort polyclinic are located on the territory of the park area near the sea. Genoa Street.
Dolphinarium Nemo. Odessa cultural-recreational complex “Nemo” is located in the city center, on the beach “Langeron”. The complex includes dolphinarium, aquarium and hotel. Visitors can swim with dolphins, dolphin therapy sessions.
The exhibition of the aquarium presents inhabitants of fresh and marine waters, the exotarium presents amphibians and reptiles. You can also see 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.
The city 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”. The hotel is located in the heart of the city on the pedestrian street Deribasovskaya, 500 meters from the Black Sea shore. The building is a monument of architecture constructed in 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 air-conditioning, safe, Wi-Fi. Additional services: car rental, transfer. Breakfast is served at a popular restaurant “Kompot”, which is located opposite the hotel entrance. Deribasovskaya Street, 27. Phone: +380 48 777 29 99.
Hotel “California”. It is located in the historical and cultural center, five minute walk from Deribasovskaya Street.
44 rooms of different categories. Each room has individual climate control, safe, free Wi-Fi. Additional amenities include a beauty salon, dry cleaning, laundry, booking tickets, transfer, car rental. 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 also 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 “Londonskaya”. This hotel has 160 years of history. Luxurious facade, marble staircases, stained glass windows - the atmosphere of luxury. Kuprin, Chekhov, Dreiser, Mayakovsky, Utesov and other celebrities of the 19th - 20th centuries stayed here.
The hotel is located in the center of the city on the Primorsky Boulevard. Hotel guests have free access to a 25-meter swimming pool, Finnish sauna, gym. Spacious rooms of different categories with elegant furniture in a classic style. Each room has climate control, free Wi Fi, safe.
There is a restaurant with European and Ukrainian cuisine. 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”. Business hotel standing in the historical center, on Deribasovskaya Street. Four-storey building of the 19th century - an architectural monument. The hotel has 32 spacious, comfortable rooms.
Restaurant “Voyage” offers Italian and Mediterranean cuisine as well as traditional Ukrainian cuisine. Additional amenities include 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 in the French Boulevard near Otrada Beach. The building was constructed in the late 19th century by the architect Rossi. 26 rooms, restaurant and lounges have antique and classic Italian furniture.
The restaurant offers Italian and Ukrainian cuisine. The price includes use of the fitness center and swimming pool. 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 “Black Sea “Rishelyevskaya”. This hotel can be found in the historic center. 216 comfortable rooms of different categories. All rooms have air conditioning, mini- bar, cable TV.
There are three restaurants (European, Ukrainian, Japanese cuisine). The price includes use of the pool. 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”. A modern hotel situated in a cozy corner of the old city, close to the sea. 33 comfortable rooms equipped with air conditioning, cable TV. There are rooms for non-smokers.
Restaurant (Odessa cuisine). Additional amenities include 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.