FROM THE CYCLE TOURS TO ODESSA
ARTICLE: "HISTORICAL PART OF ODESSA TOWN - MOLDAVAKA"
As Odessans say, Мoldavanka is more than Odessa, more than Odessa itself. As far as its morality, moral, manners, memory dragging with sadness, this is not only Мoldavanka, a part of town, it is a kind of life-style. That’s why if you want to know more about Odessa, don’t forget to include this wonderful part of town in your guided tour.
Мoldavanka is one of the most important historical parts of Оdessa located on the territory of Primorsky and Malinovsky boulevard. The history says that in the XVII century, when sunny Moldavia became the scene of bloody wars involving several states, neighboring Odessa became a rescue for a number of people leaving their homes. This town became an oasis in the middle of the battle field of cruel battles between Russian and Turkish forces. Since the beginning of time, relatives of Moldavians lived in Odessa – Bulgarians and Vlahs, where fleet from the Turkish as well.
Starting from the year 1814, Slobodka appeared on the map of Odessa. It was marked in the form of a small rectangular settlement. The first census of population results proved that about a hundred of Moldavians lived there. However, some time passed and the name of this district was the only thing that remained from Moldavians. Main part of Moldavaka’s population consisted of Jews. For many years Odessa has been considered “an island of freedom” having a special status, so Jews were guaranteed the same privileges as all the rest of the town residents. At the end of XIX century 90% of Moldavanka population were Jews. Due to “Оdessan Stories» by Isaak Babel who was born in this district, the whole world got familiar with Moldavanka, and the king of Odessa gangsters Мishka Japonchik (Mikey the Japanese) became immortal feat. Beny Krik.
From the very creation of this district, Moldavanka used to be working outskirts of Оdessa. Main industrial enterprises and houses of their workers used to be located here. Nowadays, Moldavanka is still an industrial district, but in recent years new office centers and residential houses started to squeeze out old industrial buildings.
Nevertheless, there are “reserved places” left in Moldavanka, with cozy old yards, stone extensions, wooden front gardens and verandahs, surrounded with picket fences painted ever-green. Here and today you can meet descendants of Moldavanka native residents: «tough shot callers», starving tailors, shoemakers, chicken thieves («hookers»), keepers of poor small shops, legendary draymen. In spite of all this “type diversity”, residents of Moldavanka have always been on friendly terms. Here nationality doesn’t matter, and people speak neither Russian, Ukrainian, Yiddish nor even Moldavian, they speak their native Odessan.
Мoldavanka is legendary outskirts of Odessa… Due to its residents a romantic image of “an ordinary Odessan” has been formed for many years. An Odessan who is witty, charming, temperamental and a bit rogue. It’s a pity, but past romance lives only in memories. Personages of Babel and Olesha stories used to live in Moldavanka, and the district itself can be seen in such famous series as “Liquidation” , “Once upon a time in Odessa, or adventures of Mishka Japonchik”…
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