Created 220 years ago the pearl of South Ukraine and main port of our country Odessa has a lot of architectural and historical sights. Let us introduce you our Top 15 Must See places rating:
1. Deribasivska (Deribasovskaya) Street
Deribasovskaya is a symbol of Odessa, the most populous and vibrant street in a city. Today it is not even a street, but we can say an avenue, who likes to walk all citizens and their guests, because the traffic there is closed. The roadway was faced with masonry – paving blocks. Next to Deribasovskaya there is Odessa`s City Garden, together they create a great walking boulevard with restaurants, cafes and shops. This is a historic part of the city, because the Street is full of the old buildings of the architecture of 19th century.
2. Odessa Opera House
Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff conducted on its stage, the great Enrico Caruso, and Feodor Chaliapin sang, and Pavlova and Isadora Duncan danced. The popular magazine “Forbes” included the Odessa Opera House into a list of the most important sights in Eastern Europe. Odessa Opera House was the first in Ukraine at its time of construction, in meaning and popularity. The first theater was opened in 1810, but in 1873 it was completely destroyed by fire. The city invited Viennese architects, F. Felner and H. Helmer, to draft a new building. It took nearly fifteen years for Odessa to rebuild the Opera House and it was opened on October 1st, 1887.
3. The Potemkin Stairs
The Potemkin Stairs (Potemkinskaya Lestnitsa) – one of Odessa’s trademarks – is rightfully acknowledged as one of the most beautiful staircases in Europe, and Odessa’s residents proudly call it the eighth wonder of the world. This monumental architectural installation, which connects the town center to the port, was created in 1841. Italian architect Francesco Boffo designed it at the request of Novorossiysky region’s governor-general, Prince Mikhail Vorontsov. This was his present to his beloved wife Elisabeth, and, at the same time, a favor to the elites, who lived in mansions on Primorsky Boulevard and dreamed of a convenient way to get to the sea. The stairs got their name and world fame thanks to the famous film director Sergey Eisenstein, who shot them in his movie “The Battleship Potemkin”, one of the most significant films in world cinema’s history. Today, the Potemkin Stairs are 142 meters (466 feet) long and have 192 stairs.
Laocoon In Greek mythology, Laocoon is the priest-prophet from Troy. Laocoon warned the Trojans of taking the gift from their enemies (“Trojan horse”) – and for that he was punished. The enraged goddess Athene sent monstrous snakes to kill the priest and his sons. The original sculpture was created by the Greeks in the Ist century BC, and now it is kept in the Vatican. While being in Italy, the governor of Odessa G. Marazli was very impressed by it and ordered a copy. In 1870 the Laocoon was established in a summer residence of Marazli, then the sculpture was transferred to the Preobrazhenskaya street, and only in 1971 it got to its present location. The Marble priest in Odessa several times got into complicated situations: in the 30s a naked Laocoon “was covered up” – they painted ink pants for him, and later his nakedness was covered with a fig leaf.
5. City Hall
Situated on the Primorskiy Boulevard the building which houses the City Hall nowadays is the place of the former old Stock Exchange in Odessa. Trading has always been the main source of Odessa budget income, so it is only natural that the Stock Exchange building occupied the foreground of the city and was further converted into the City Council and Mayor place.
6. Spaso-Preobrazhenskiy cathedral
In 1795, just one year after the founding of Odessa, the Nickolayev church was built on Sobornaya square. The cathedral became one of the biggest in Russia. It was almost 50 meters wide and over 100 meters long. It could accommodated over 10,000 people and was the pride of Odessa. In 1932 it was closed down. The square was officially renamed Soviet Army square, but unlike the over 170 other street and park name changes, the newer name never stuck with Odessites. In 1936 Stalin order the Cathedral destroyed. In a cowardly manner the cathedral was dynamited in the night. The church has begun to be rebuilt since 1999.
The Biggest of all Odessa’s beaches Arcadia. Is a 15 minute cab ride from the city center and brings you to the largest and most developed beach in Odessa. The main entrance is clearly labeled by two pillars with a sign that reads Arcadia. Behind the sign is a long, shaded boulevard which boasts dozens of entertainment options ranging from karaoke while on a horse to go cart riding. Along this path, you will also notice dozens of cafes, restaurants and kiosks. After about a 200 meter walk you will see a nightclub Ibiza which sits slights before the entrance to the beach. From here you can choose to either go downstairs onto the main Arcadia beach or take a left or a right and choose numerous surrounding stretches of sand that all fall within Arcadia’s premises. It is our personal recommendation to walk left until you see large water slides. Here is a full serviced part of Odessa’s Arcadia beach, which offers umbrellas and lying chairs for a fee. There is a bar on this part of the beach, soft music and waiter service. Changing rooms and showers are all included with the price. Other activities you can do on this beach range from Jet Skiing to relaxing massages from wondering masseuses.
8. Monument to Orange
The Monument to Orange is one of the most interesting and funniest monuments in Odessa. It was built in honor of the 210th anniversary of Odessa and has a captivating history. Paul I didn’t want to begin construction of the marine trade port in Odessa, so when the city’s residents found out about it, they sent him carts with oranges (the emperor’s favorite fruits). After such an original gift, Paul I contributed the money for the building of the port.
9. Shah’s Palace
The building was erected in the English Gothic style by architect F.Gonsiorovskiy in 1852 for Polish noble Z.Brzozowski. This family had owned the palace until 1910 when another Polish noble bought it, Count Schenbeck. He rented it to Mohammad Ali Shah Qajar, the deposed Shah of Persia. In the USSR, the palace was a public building. It was not taken good care of, and after the collapse of the Soviet Union it became decrepit. It was rented to a bank and renovated. The exterior of the palace has not changed much. Unfortunately though, the interior has been nearly completely lost except for the entrance hall and the front stairs. Figuratively, the palace is a counterbalance to Vorontsov’s palace located on the opposite bank of the ravine. One can walk there on a pedestrian bridge.
10. House with Atlants
Located on the charming and beautiful Gogolya Street, this is one of the most recognizable and interesting sights in Odessa. The neighboring house № 5 represents a wonderful architectural ensemble that belonged to the family of the prominent baron Falz-Fein. This old building on the same street is another prominent sight in this city. This house was inhabited by Nikolai Gogol, a prominent Ukrainian-born Russian novelist, humorist and dramatist. He spent 5 months there during his second visit to the city in 1851.
11. Mother-in-Law Bridge
The bridge was built over Jeanne Labourbe Descent (Voennyy Descent both now and originally) in 1968 by architect A.Vladimirskaya and engineer Kiriyenko. They tried to finish it by the 50th anniversary of the Revolution but failed to do so. It is the longest, tallest and narrowest bridge in Odessa. Its formal name was Komsomolskiy but the bridge was never known by this name. Later it was reamed to Kapitanskiy. Yet nowadays very few people have heard of those names. The bridge has a feature. It is very tall and if you stand still you may feel it rocking especially when there is a strong wind. And if several people jump together in sync you cannot but feel the swing. Again, back to the bridge name: some people say that the bridge is as loose as a mother’s-in-law tongue. Young people like to put locks on the railings. It is a silly tradition imported from Europe, presumably from Czechia a couple of years ago, approximately in 2006. This custom symbolizes solid relationship that is locked (the key is supposed to be thrown into water). According to estimates, there are about 10,000 locks on the bridge. A lock weighs about a pound, so they make up a significant load.
12. Odessa Philharmonic
The building occupies the site of the former Odessa new Stock Exchange. Philharmonic Hall, a historic monument in Odessa, was opened in 1899. Designed by famous Odessa architect of Italian origin Mario Bernardazzi, the hall is a fine example of turn of the century architectural character of Odessa and of the Venetian Gothic style.
13. The Catacombs
The sandstone on which Odessa stands is riddled with about 1000 km (620 miles) of tunnels, known as the katakombi (catacombs). Quarried out for building in the 19th century, they have since been used by smugglers, revolutionaries and WWII partisans. In Nerubayske village on the north-western edge of Odessa, a network of tunnels that sheltered partisans in WWII has been turned into the Museum of Partisan Glory. This museum is very popular. It is located 7 miles off Odessa. Catacombs served as a cover for Odessa Partisans during World War II. You’ll walk in tunnels under the ground, where conditions of partisan camp are reconstructed. You’ll here the story about Odessa heroes. The excursion begins with a brief drive through the city and will take you past small Ukrainian villages, farms, beautiful orchards and vineyards. Admire the changing view or take photographs of the countryside, formerly known as the breadbasket of the Soviet Union.
14. Vorontsov’s Palace
Vorontsov’s Palace completes the architectural complex of Primorskiy Boulevard in the north. It was built either in 1824-1827 or, according to another source, in 1826-1828, as the residence of New Russia Governor Count (later Prince) Mihail Vorontsov by architect F.Boffo who created 50 other buildings in Odessa but was famous for this one at the first place. The palace was erected in the Empire style where the Turkish fortress had been. What’s interesting, the dungeons of the fortress are still there under the palace and accessible from it. During the Crimean War in 1854 English and French ships shelled Odessa. 200 cannon balls hit the palace, in particular. When Vorontsov had learned about the bombardment, he ordered to hide his books in the dungeons. The palace became a public building after the 1917 revolution. Since 1936 the palace has been used for kids activities such as singing, dancing, music, etc. The interior of the palace was more or less intact, unlike its counterpart on the other bank of the ravine.
15. One Wall Building
The building close to Vorontsov’s Palace is famous for its shape. If you walk from the palace and stop at the edge of the building it seems that there is only a facade, and no side wall. The building looks flat. The reason for this architecture is probably the land plot. The house was built in 1889 by architect D.Klimov and belonged to Rafalovich. The sight was nearly lost in 2012 when some greedy businessmen started a construction next to it. A new building next to this one could have shielded the view and take away the weird look. The community was outraged and people came to protest. Fortunately, the construction was stopped. However, we have to wait and see.