Odesa (Odessa) is Ukraine’s most charming city. Anyone who argues otherwise has never been to Odesa, has never strolled its captivating streets nor broken bread with its jovial citizens.
As a tribute to its appeal, eight cities in the US, two in Canada and one in Brazil were named Odessa. There’s also Lake Odesa and even Odesa the planet somewhere out there in the cosmos. However, none of these tributes shine as vibrantly as Odesa, Ukraine: The Pearl of the Black Sea.
Throughout its history Odesa has lured travellers, artists, poets, entrepreneurs and radical dissidents.
The city was founded in 1794 by Catherine the Great, who realised that a port on the Black Sea was essential for the expansion of the Russian Empire. It was not erected on empty ground, however. Archaeological findings have revealed the existence of an ancient Greek settlement. The Kyivan Rus, the Golden Horde, Lithuanians, Ottomans, Tatars and Poles also made use of Odesa’s ideal location. The area ultimately fell into Russian hands during the Russo-Turkish War (1787-1791), and was later annexed under the Treaty of Jassy in 1792.
Unlike many of its contemporary Russian cities, the construction of Odesa was well planned. Duc de Richelieu, a French dissident who served in the Russian Army and later became one of the city’s first governors, is credited as the city’s visionary designer. The city boomed throughout the 19th century, and attracted an incredibly diverse population. Russians, Ukrainians, Jews, Romanians, Greeks, Bulgarians, Albanians, Armenians, Italians, Frenchmen and Germans all added their own unique vision to the city’s unparalleled character. By the beginning of the 20th century, Odesa had become the third most important city in the Russian Empire behind St. Petersburg and Moscow. It continued to thrive during Soviet industrial expansion, and by the mid 1950’s had become one of the world’s richest grain harbours. Despite the incursion of industry, Odesa has remained an invaluable cultural centre and a place of blossoming appeal.
Although Odesa has been a sun, surf and relaxation destination for as long as anyone can remember, the city has really caught the buzz as of late. New restaurants, bars, clubs, hotels and resorts keep popping up to meet the demand of enthused tourists and adventurers drawn by this fascinating cultural centre nestled right up next to the beach.
We are proud to offer you this guide, designed to highlight the very best Odesa has to offer. Do feel free to let us know what you think of the city.