Odessa is the top tourist destination of the Black Sea and the maritime capital of Ukraine. Thanks to its network of seven ports, the City is an international logistic hub.
Odessa is famous for its cultural heritage, a sophisticated gastronomy and the sparkly nightlife, which created the myth of the “Pearl of the Black Sea”. Above all, its worldwide fame is due to the cinema masterpiece “Battleship Potëmkin” (Ejzenstejn, 1925), with the unforgettable scene of the massacre on the stairway, which is still Odessa’s main landmark. Indeed, it was the Hollywood of Soviet Union.
The most intriguing characteristic of Odessa is the cosmopolitan soul, since its foundation, and the numerous nationalities contributing to the building of the city: Italian, French, Greek, Turkish, German, British, Polish, Bulgarian, Romanian and Jewish.
Odessa owes its birth to a Neapolitan commander serving under Catherine the Great, who seized the local Turkish fort and scouted the harbour during the war against the Ottoman Empire. He founded the city in 1794, choosing the name of Odessa. Thanks to José De Ribas, the first leading class of the city was mainly composed by merchants and ship-owners coming from Naples, Palermo and Genoa.
Then, the city was developed by two French mayors: Duc de Richelieu (grandson of the famous Bishop of the “Three Musketeers”) and Count Langeron, who set the urban rational design and, under the artistic guidance of prestigious Italian architects. They achieved a masterpiece: a sort of St. Petersburg of the South, but with a French-Italian touch.
The Empress Catherine invited foreigners to settle in the new conquered province and allocated many funds to build not only the main port of the Russian Empire, but also an ideal city, full of art and culture. Therefore, Odessa became an industrious and tolerant melting pot of various cultures. The great Russian poet Pushkin, who spent there one year, described a city where: “people read newspapers in Italian, French, German, and Greek, and enjoy a political and economic freedom superior to other Russian cities”.
After the initial immigration of Italians, the City’s business spine was completed by Greeks and Jewish (the majority of the population, in the end of 19th century). Odessa was the easiest place of the Russian Empire to become rich, due to the status of “Porto Franco” (tax exemption on trade). For this reason, it got the nickname of “Russian California”. The famous American writer Mark Twain visited Odessa in 1867 and wrote: “I stood in Odessa for the first time. It looked just like an American city”.
FIVE REASONS TO VISIT ODESSA
Beautiful architecture and ironic monuments: Potemkin Stairway, Opera Theatre and Passage (monumental arcade) are the city’s most famous jewels. There are also amazing courtyards, museums and funny monuments (“Orange the Tsar”, “Policeman with birds”, the 12th Chair, the Sailor’s wife, etc.), which create the atmosphere of a movie setting.
Gastronomy: Odessa is the capital of Ukrainian-fusion cuisine. In its dishes is present the influence of Bessarabian, Jewish, French, Georgian, Genoese, Turkish and Russian cuisine. Odessa’s restaurants offer a high quality of food, with a sophisticate taste for interior design.
Beaches and nightlife: Odessa beach clubs are famous as well as the City’s nightlife. The low cost compared with quality of entertainment is very competitive for summer holidays.
A house in Odessa: expatriates in Odessa have the feeling to live in a city with mixed ingredients: European style, maritime atmosphere, ironic and charming people. The City broadcasts love vibes, due to literature references and local beauties. Many foreigners buy apartments in Odessa for personal use or investment (they cheaper than in other European cities).
Business: Odessa is the sea gateway of Ukrainian agriculture export to Middle and Far East, North Africa and Europe markets, and a logistic hub connecting trade from the Black Sea to the Baltic Sea and Central Europe, through railway routes. An ideal market place for foreign investors in Port infrastructure, logistics services and agriculture machineries.
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This article is offered by “The Odessa Journal”, the online magazine in English dedicated to Odessa’s news on culture, lifestyle and business.