Overview of the city
Odessa,Ukraine, is a beautiful city on the northwest coast of the Black Sea situated in 32 km from the mouth of the Dnestr River. Its population is now approximately 1,100.000.
The city's name is derived from Odessos, a nearby ancient Greek settlement (sixth Century before our era) where the city of Varna, Bulgaria, is located nowadays. It was founded in 1794 on the site of a Turkish settlement - the fortress Khadzibei - after the armies of Catherine II had wrested control of the Black Sea coast from the Turks.
Odessa is situated on terraced hills overlooking Odessa Bay, an inlet of the Black Sea that forms a natural harbor. From the central part of the city, a monumental stairway - somehow the symbol of the city - descends to the waterfront. It was made famous in the Russian film Potemkin, directed by Sergei Eisenstein, which depicts the naval mutiny that occurred during the Revolution of 1905. This stairway used to carry the name of Richelieu, from Armand Emmanuel du Plessis de Chinon, Duke of Richelieu, a French politician (1766-1822), who served in the Russian army against the Turks and who was nominated Governor of the province of Odessa (1803-1814) by the Tsar Alexander I.
Odessa grew rapidly, especially in the latter half of the 19th century, when railroad construction in the southern Ukraine made it Russia's principal port for grain exports. Following the Bolshevik Revolution, the nation's economy turned inward and Odessa stagnated. Its development was also set back during World War II when it fell to German and Romanian forces in October 1941 after a 69-day siege.
Odessa was and is maybe still a leading educational and cultural center, the seat of Odessa State University (1865) and Odessa Polytechnic Institute (1918) and a number of specialized institutes. It also has an opera and both Ukrainian and Russian dramatic theaters. The Ukraine Experimental Institute for Eye Diseases and Tissue Therapy is also situated in Odessa.
The city has a relatively warm, dry climate, with January temperatures averaging -2œC and July temperatures, 22œC. Precipitation totals 351 mm annually.
The moderate climate and coastal lagoons nearby have given rise to beach resorts famous for therapeutic mud baths. A diversified manufacturing center, Odessa produces a wide range of machinery and equipment, including machine tools, farm machinery, hoisting equipment, and refrigerators, as well as chemicals. Shipyards and a small petroleum refinery are important to the economy.
Food processing in flourmills, stockyards, canneries, and sugar refineries is based on the city's proximity to rich Ukrainian farmlands. Odessa's cosmopolitan atmosphere can be attributed to its importance as one of the major foreign trade ports and fishing fleet bases of the region, with traffic to and from the countries of the Mediterranean basin, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.
Moderately continental and comparatively dry. There are more than 290 sunny days in the year.
Winter is short and mild with an average temperature of around freezing point. Falling snow and temperatures below minus 10 Celsius are rare.
Summer is long and hot with an average temperature of 25 Celsius. Temperatures above 35 Celsius are quite often.
Sights to Visit
Odessa abounds in sight, historical streets, fine art museums, charismatic hotels and restaurants. Odessa is a bright image of the outstanding Ukrainian city. Influenced by the humide southern sea climate and specific historic past all the citizens of Odessa are distinguished with bright appearance and outstanding characters.
The most famous street of Odessa is Deribasovskaya Street. It is considered to be the heart of Old Odessa, with shops ranging from the government meat store to the Levis outlet. During fair weather, Deribasovskaya is the sight for the best people watching, especially if you stop at one of the numerous cafes with outdoor seating; but after September, the wise go indoors. The City Park (Gorsad) near Preobrazhenskaya Street boasts dozens of craftsmen, strollers and musicians
Built in 1837 and site of the famous baby carriage scene in Eisenstein's "Battleship Potemkin," the Potemkin Steps are the best place in the city to view the bay and busy harbors. Walk along the yellow-bricked Primorskjj Boulevard and note monuments to Aleksander I, Soviet generals and a British frigate which grounded off shore during the Crimean War. At the bottom of the steps is the city's brand new passenger ship terminal and convention center.
At the Primorskij Boulevard's west end note the (pre-revolutionary) governor's palace, which incidentally was heavily damaged in 1854 when the British and French bombarded it. Count Vorontsov built a Grecian collonade which overlooks the harbor and also provides a fine view of the bay.
Next to the palace is the Tyoschin Most, a foot bridge built over a gorge by a Communist functionary in the 1950s either so his mother-in-law could visit him more easily or so she would not have an excuse to stay overnight, depending on which version of the story you choose to believe. The bridge is a traditional sight where newly weeds have their pictures taken.
Once home to Odessa's wealthy merchants, Frantsuskij Boulevard now is home to numerous sanitoria, but the cobblestones and acacia trees are most reminiscent of Old Odessa.
More than 400 km of catacombs are buried beneath Odessa. Both partisans and smugglers have used them over the years, and the part of the catacombs which resistance fighters used in 1941 is open to the public. Located some 35 km outside of town, the partisan catacomb bus leaves (as of this writing) daily from the bus kiosk across Volzhynskij street from the train station at 10 a.m., except weekends. An easier way to find the bus is to ask at the information window in the train station The trip takes half a day and costs 5 hryvnas for the Russian-language version. The bus is not air-conditioned.
Shopping in Odessa
State-owned and private stores in Odessa are divided, generally, into grocery stores, department stores and supermarkets which offer a variety of domestic and imported products.
When purchasing grocery products at state-owned stores, check their expiration dates and the labels in Ukrainian language which ensure the quality of the products.
The stores in Odessa are open on Saturdays and are closed only on Sundays. The majority of stores have a lunch hour, which is usually either from 1 to 2 p.m. or from 2 to 3 p.m.