At the end of the 18th century, Odessa was established by the Imperial decree and flourished quickly as an essential port on the Black Sea. It became the most populous city in the 19th century and home to some titans of the age like Field Marshall Vorontsov who was recognized due to the Napoleon wars and the writer Alexander Pushkin. Today, Odessa is one of the best cities in Ukraine and this holiday escape is known for its mild climate, culture and beaches. The locals lovingly call it ‘Odessa Mama’. It is shabby and grand, decadent and modern, confusing and energetic and very much real. A lot of its beautiful architecture can be seen at cultured parks, palaces, ceremonial stairways, palaces and an amazing opera house, which is regarded as one of the finest in Europe.
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The city has lots to offer to those who are visiting it and this could get overwhelming if you don’t know what to do. If you are confused, here are some of the interest things to do and the great places to see in Odessa:
- Visit the Odessa Opera and Ballet Theatre
In the 1880s, the Viennese partners Fellner and Helmer conceived the magnificent opera house. While they build dozens of opera houses across Eastern and Central Europe, the one in Odessa is undoubtedly their masterwork. If you are interested in learning about the finer details of the technical specifications and academic architecture, you can take a tour in daytime. However, nothing can come close to the experience of attending an opera or a ballet performance. You can spend a night watching Swan Lake, Carmen or Lolanta and have a wonderful experience to add to your memories.
- Check out the Potemkin Stairs
A ceremonious way of entering Odessa from the port is through this grand staircase. The stairway was paved with granite and was ordered as a gift by Prince Vorontsov to his wife in the 1840s. The Potemkin Stairs comprise of a total of 192 steps, which are spread out over a distance of 142 meters and there is a 27 meter difference in elevation. There are some intriguing quirks about the stairway. The first is that it is a lot broader at the bottom than at the top. This was done intentionally for creating a false perspective and making the stairway seem larger when people see it from below.
- Explore Deribasivska Street
Known as the city’s beating heart, the Deribasivska Street runs horizontally across Odessa for almost a kilometer. Whether you are sightseeing, dining or shopping, you will end up on this dynamic artery every now and then. The street has been named after one of the founders of Odessa, the Neapolitan José de Ribas. At the eastern end of the street, you will come across his statue. In 1984, the western half of the street was pedestrianized and it has long lines of mansions from the 19th and 20th century. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants where you can sit and enjoy the sights.
- Enjoy the City Garden
The oldest park in Odessa was landscaped in 1803 by the broker of José de Ribas and it was a private property initially. The City Garden opens into Deribasivska Street and you can find iron lanterns, paved paths and flowerbeds boasting little iron fences. These are all based around a beautiful fountain, pavilion and the Odessa Philharmonic’s summer theatre. In the summers, there are often recitals held here, which can add a touch of sophistication to the place. Apart from that, the City Garden also has some monuments that honor some cultural figures in Odessa like the Twelve Chairs monument that refers to the Russian satirical novel of the same name.
- Shop in Odessa markets
Kaleidoscopic, vibrant and colorful, you can find everything in Odessa markets from freshly pickled apples and home-made food to animals, fridges and Soviet Ladas. The most famed bazar in Odessa is called Privoz and it is a great spot for finding seasonable fruits and vegetables. If you want really good deals, it is best for you to arrive before 3 pm and then browse through the collection. Right outside of Odessa is the largest outdoor market of Europe called the 7th Kilometer Bazaar. You can take a bus there and spend an entire afternoon looking at rows of leather goods, jewelry, furniture, wedding dress and tons of other products.
- Make a wish at the ‘Duke’
During the Bourbon Restoration, Duke de Richelieu served as a notable statesman and he was also a ranking offer in the Russian Imperial Army. In 1803, he was appointed as governor of Odessa and he made some great contributions to the development of the city. In a few years, he was able to make Odessa the third largest city in the whole Russian Empire. In 1828, the citizens of Odessa decided to honor him and erected a Monument. The statue faces the Potemkin Stairs and greets the ships that enter Odessa’s harbor. The statue participates in all of the city’s festivals. For instance, it ‘wears’ cute sailor’s cap on April Fool’s Day and dons the costume of Ellington in Jazz Days. You can make a wish at the monument or touch the bag of money if you want to make a fortune.
- Check out the Archaeological Museum
Set up in 1825, this is the oldest museum that you can find in all of Ukraine. The Archaeological Museum has up to 170,000 exhibits, all of which are related to the region’s ancient history, along with Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Egypt. The attraction is housed in a palace that can be traced back to 1883 and its big Neoclassical portico immediately catches the eye. The Egyptian galleries also comprise of the papyrus, sarcophagi and hieroglyphics. Apart from that, there is also a massive collection of 50,000 coins that belonged to Ancient Greece in the days of the Russian Empire.
These activities and places will keep you organized in Odessa for days and you will certainly have a fun experience. For more information about visiting Odessa go to the Odessa4U Travel Agency website today!