Odessa, With a population slightly over 1 million people and location just in the country’s south by the Black Sea, Odessa (also commonly spelled Odesa) is the main seaport and centre of transportation.
Initially built by Russians as a naval fortress in the late 18th century, being a free port within 1918-58, the city used to be the hub for international populace.
The architectural style of Odessa has been significantly influenced by Italy and France creating more of the Mediterranean tint than Russian. Thanks to the perfect location by the coast, the tourist popularity is blossoming.
Visitors can for instance relax on the famous sandy Arkadia beach on the city’s south, stroll around the city centre with popular statue of Catherine the Great, visit the gorgeous Opera House or walk up the Potemkin Steps – a massive staircase and also the iconic symbol of the city.
Odessa City Garden – This is Odessa’s first park constructed in 1803.
Offering a jovial and relaxed atmosphere, the garden is decorated with a lovely fountain, statues and monuments.
Live musical and orchestra groups can often be seen playing on stage. Whether you want to stop by for a small picnic or just want to pass through and catch a glimpse of the local atmosphere, this park deserves your time and attention.
This is a very popular beach area and also a historic part of Odessa. Arcadia is also a favourite amongst tourists with plenty of restaurants, bars and night-clubs.
If you are visiting in summer this is definitely the place to be, with discos staying open until the early morning hours. Arcadia is the last stop of tram number 5, as well as of trolley-bus 5 and 13.
Odessa Archaeological Museum – Founded in 1825, this is one of Ukraine’s oldest archeological museums. The building seen today was completed in the early 1880s. This is a must see for any archeological or history enthusiast.
The museum contains over 160,000 exhibits encompassing artifacts found in the Black Seas region, while also displaying artifacts from ancient epochs and empires. Furthermore, the museum also serves as an active center for scientific research.
Central Park of Culture or Shevchenko Park – This park stretches from the Sea around the Chornomorets Stadium (home of Odessa’a football team) and finally towards more central areas. There are many twisting paths and walkways all of which are filled with people playing, cycling or enjoying each other’s company. Discover many of the statues and monuments on a casual stroll and make your way down towards one of the beaches. It will be very hard to miss the Taras Shevchenko monument at the entrance of the park.
Transfiguration Cathedral – This is Odessa’s largest Orthodox Church. The very original foundation of the church dates all the way back to the 13th century, followed by a modern architectural foundation dating back to 1795. However, this later construction was toppled by the Soviets in the 1930s. The building seen today was rebuilt in 1999 and consecrated in 2003
Odessa National Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet – This is the oldest theater and the most famous building in Odessa. Many magazine throughout the century have heralded this splendid site as one of the top places to see in all of Eastern Europe.
The theater was built in 1810, but was destroyed by an all-consuming fire in 1873. Two Viennese architects, Helmer and Felner, redesigned and rebuilt the building with a Baroque style from Austria, which was completed in 1877. See more information at: http://opera.odessa.ua/en/
Catacombs of Odessa
Many people have no idea that Odessa was built above a unique labyrinth of catacombs. The entirety of all the underground catacombs stretch for an astonishing length of 2,500 km. These elaborate underground tunnels have served many purposes over the years.
They have been used as safe-houses during wartime, hideouts for rebels and criminals and a convenient channel for smugglers.
Today, the catacombs are still being explored and studied by archeologists and other professional groups. The Museum of Partisan Glory is the official section of the catacombs open for public exploration.
The Port of Odessa – Located on the western side of Odessa Bay is Ukraine’s largest seaport. In addition to being a main business and freight hub, the port is also a central passenger terminal. Take a nice walk along the Bay or investigate the routine activity of ships moving in and out from Odessa.
The port gives you a nice visual representation of Odessa’s geographical importance and is right next to the famous Potemkin Staircase.