There are cities which are enough to see once to keep a good memory of them for ever. Every one of us deep at heart has a special city, visiting which is like making a secret wish coming true. Odessa by all means is one of such places. She has all there is for that: southern sun, endless sandy beaches, gems of architecture, and a luring halo of cheerfulness, gracefulness and mystery which make a person smile with an air of reverie just upon hearing this name — Odessa!
Two centuries is not much of an age for a city. The most acclaimed of all the younger cities of the world, one that boasts turbulent and glorious history, a city of brilliant theaters and museums, noisy markets and quiet little streets, warriors and merchants, revelers and toilers — all that is Odessa. It is interesting to observe the ongoing show in the streets of Odessa and a slightly laid-back yet always full of events city life.
You are lucky to see this place. To see Odessa means to fall in love with her. We will help you feel at home here. We'll share with you the beauty of her trendiest streets as well as small romantic nooks hidden from fortuitous glances. Discover your own Odessa, get to know her uniqueness and her warm aura, take this warmth with you and make sure you come back.
Odessa is always an adventure with a happy end. Smile: you are about to commence it.
Every great city has its own great history. During her few years of existence Odessa did all she possibly could to justify this truth as well as ...to prove the contrary.
Having emerged at the place of the taken from the Turks fortress Khadzhibei that protected few households under the same name, Odessa, within an amazingly short period of time — the lifespan of her fathers-founders, managed to gain fame as a pearl of the South and became known as the biggest port on the Black Sea.
In the XVIII-XIX centuries the world knew just one example of similar tempos, scale and urban planning art. That was Saint-Petersburg — a grand hall of the Russian empire awarded with the title of the Northern Palmyra for the perfection of its architectural embodiment. The young Odessa began to be known as the Palmyra of the South.
A beautiful city that was brought into existence by a miracle lured the imagination of travelers, entrepreneurs, gentlemen of fortune of all sorts, adventurers, and even big masses of people looking for protection from the Ottoman sabers.
Only a year after a decree running as follows "regarding the highly advantageous situation of Khadzhibei and in connection with its profits...to establish there a military harbor1 alongside with a merchant quay" was signed by the Empress Catherine II in 1794, already more than 2300 "souls of both genders" had been living here.
One year more and a traveling baron de la Turbia with a sheer sympathy noted: "...in a city where there was nothing a year ago one can count to a thousand solid buildings made of rock".
Beginning with Joseph de Ribas ( Osip Deribas in Russian) — a commander of the Russian army detachment that made Khadzhibei go from the Turks forever, Odessa was being built according to high ancient examples as if emphasizing her succession from the Hellenistic urban colonies that once flourished here. Typical Mediterranean structures adorned with columns along their facades, grand buildings of theatres and public institutions, often stylized as ancient temples, palaces, and mansions of noble families who preferred these places for their summer vacations, multilingual folks flocking in the streets where even the street signs were exclusively in Italian — all that looked unusually exotic and, possibly, too much European for the Russian Empire of that time.
By her twentieth anniversary Odessa was already a city of a European range, the biggest supplier of grains to Europe, and an actual capital of a huge Novorossia (New Russia) region that appeared on the new Southern boundaries of the Empire.
What forces promoted such an immense growth? Was it a profitable position between East and West or potent Black Sea coast black soils? Maybe it was the insight of her first governors and their commitment to the new city as their firstborn baby? The Free Port (tax-free harbor) regime which gave an impetus to international commerce or just that much talked about "genius of the place" — Genius Loci — a guarding spirit of man, home and city passed down to us from the ancient Romans?
Many tried to understand the Odessa phenomenon. The American historian Patricia Herlihy managed to do it more accurately than others in her monograph on the history of this city:
"The advantages that gave it this remarkable growth were several - an excellent location, intelligent planning, the favor of the imperial government, the appeal of the city to settlers of many nationalities, and, above all, the continuing expansion of foreign trade."
And altogether it gave something which is beyond imitation or duplication. Such is the city that became famous from the cradle, where people of more than a hundred nationalities found bread, shelter and a new homeland, the city that always preferred gold to lead, and came forth triumphantly out of all her wars, the city that became a legend within two centuries only.