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«Ah, Odesa! Pearl of the Sea»


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   “Oh, Odessa! The Pearl near the sea.” The words of this well known song do the city of Odessa justice for it certainly is the pearl of the Black Sea coast. She beckons us with her beauty: her views are enchanting, her story fascinates. You won’t regret visiting this city, renowned for the good humour of its inhabitants, and plunging into its mysteries. And it’s really worth seeing Odessa since this is one of the cities richest in sights! 

       This city on the Black Sea has gone by many names: South Palmyra, Sea Babel, Little Paris, The Capital of the South. Odessa is a diverse city in spite of it being, by historical standards, young: it is age is just of 200 years. But in this brief period it has experienced an incredible amount of historical events that are reflected in the architecture of its buildings and streets.

       Construction of the town and seaport began on May 22th, 1794 by decree of Catherine II, with the intention of greatly improving trade ties with Europe. Construction began under the leadership of Vice Admiral José de Ribas - the first mayor of Odessa, and it was carried out according to plan that was compiled by the Russian Colonel-engineer Franz Devolan.

       These lands have been inhabited by the Scythians, Cimmerians, Sarmatians and the Greeks. Each culture has left its mark on the city's history. The territory on which Odessa is located today was settled before the start of the Great Migration, this area of the city was belonged to the Golden Horde and the Great Principality of Lithuania. 

       Odessa was distinguished in the Second World War as a hero-city, one of four hero cities located in Ukraine. The defence of the city was held for 73 days under. If you want to learn more about this period you need only visit the memorial of the heroic defence of Odessa, the 411th Coastal Battery. This memorial is dedicated to the heroic defence of the city during the Second World War. The complex includes a museum, an open air exhibition of military equipment, a coastal defence battery and a large landscaped park of oak trees. 

       Today the city is developing both as a resort and an industrial centre and is one of the favourite tourist destinations in Ukraine and this is hardly surprising. During the day you can bask in the warm southern sun and swim in the gentle waves of the Black Sea. In Odesa you can’t count the number of tourist facilities on the fingers of one hand - Privoz and Deribassovskaya, the Odessa Opera and Ballet Theatre (the second most beautiful in Europe), the Seaside Boulevard and the Semicircular square (1826-1829) with the monument of Richelieu, Palace of Vorontsov, Palace of Potocki and the Palace of Naryshkina, The Assumption Convent (1824) and The Theological Seminary and Odessa’s Sea Port (the largest on the Black Sea) - and this is not the entire list. For the young and energetic Dolphinarium in Odesa opens its doors.

       There is even ‘the eighth wonder of the world’ - Potemkin Stairs, it was like a kind of entrance into the city from the sea. In 2004, a vote was taken, for the most beautiful staircase in Europe and Potemkin Stairs entered the top ten, it located at 6th place, also on this list was the stairs of Montmartre in Paris and the Stairs of the Temple of Athena on the Greek island Rhodes.

       In Odessa, there is a vast system of catacombs; they are not only in intricacy, but also in their length one of the most notable in the whole world. Their length reaches three thousand kilometers. For comparison the length of the Roman catacombs is three hundred kilometers, Paris - five hundred kilometers. If you're tired to see the monuments, then welcome to the Odessa Botanical Gardens, where you can relax your body and soul. For two centuries a huge collection of various plants have been collected here from around the world.

       And if you think that all tourist attractions are located only in Odessa, then you have to leave the city limits and you change your mind! Just 13 km from the centre there is the health resort of Kuyal'nyk, one of the oldest in Ukraine. The world of therapeutic mud that is has been helping people maintain good health for more than a century.

And just a half of hour drive and you're in the village of Petrovka. This place stores the castle’s ruins of the ancient of Kurisov's family. Built in oriental style, it stands out against the Soviet buildings, and stretches for many kilometers.

Odessa is a city of fun and humour, if you visit it once, you will definitely want to see it again. 

Author Daria Talan 

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