City of Odessa
According to European standards, city of Odessais a relatively young city. It was founded in 1794 by the Empress Catherine the Great. During the Russian-Turkish war of 1787-91, Russian troops took the fortress Yeni-Dunya at Khadjibey for the Russian Empire. One part of the troops was under command of a Spaniard in Russian service Don Josef de Ribas. He recommended Khadzhibei as the safe site for the region’s principal port. Catherine the Great gave her approval in 1794. The new settlement was given the name Odessa. Deribasovskaya street named after Josef de Ribas is the main street in today Odessa.
The new Black Sea port Odessa quickly became a major success. Its first governors Josef de Ribas, Frenchmen Duc de Richelieu (1803-1814), and Alexandre Andrault de Langeron (1815-1822) are considered the founding fathers of Odessa.
They designed the city and organized its infrastructure. In 1819 — 1859 in Odessa a free port regime was declared. It attracted investment capital and made the city of Odessa a vital trade link between East and West. Russia, which didn’t have trade fleet in the Black Sea at that period of time, got an opportunity to develop external trade connections through its new port Odessa.
A free port regime attracted to Odessa a lot of people from many countries. They brought their own languages, cultures, manufacturing technologies, experience of trade and management. The city of Odessa is a home of an extremely diverse population of Russians, Jews, Ukrainians, Bulgarians, Greeks, Armenians, Albanians, Italians, Germans, Frenchmen.
You walk through the city streets and read the signs on the houses: Italianskiy (Italian) Boulevard, Arnautskaya (Albanian) Street, Frantsuszkiy (French) Boulevard, Evreyskaya (Jewish) Street, Grecheskaya (Greek) Street, and etc. People, who have lived in Odessa have a joke: «Our nationality is Odessites.»
There is something special in this city. Many of those people who have never been there before want to live in Odessa once they visit it. Leonid Utyosov, the legend and pride of the Soviet culture, wrote: «I was born in Odessa. Do you think I just boast? But it is really true. Many would like to be born in Odessa, but not everyone managed to do it. Your parents have to come to Odessa at least one day before your birthday in order you could be born there. Mine have lived there all their life.»
What is that special about the city of Odessa? Why does it attract so many different people till now? Before we go sightseeing through Odessa, let’s take a look at this curious statistics. Very often numbers tell more than emotions.
- The city of Odessa is the forth largest city in Ukraine. Its population is 1,012,500 (est. 2004). During the summer time number of inhabitants becomes 2-5 times greater. Area mild climate, warm Black Sea, many therapeutic resorts and famous healing muds and mineral springs make it very attractive tourist destination.
- City of Odessa is a major Ukrainian sea port. Together with its satellite towns of Yuzhny and Ilyichevsk it forms a strategic transportation junction between Europe, Middle East and Asia.
The city is a Ukrainian naval base and runs the largest fishing fleet, oil refining, chemicals, ship repairing, food processing and textile industries.
- Odessa has the highest in Ukraine density of population.
25 of 100 foreign tourists who arrive to Ukraine, visit Odessa. Tourism is the most rapidly growing industry in Odessa.
- Population of Odessa has 1.5 times greater than average in Ukraine income rate and one of the lowest rates of unemployment.
- Every year Odessites buy 25 — 30% more goods than they did previous year.
- There are more than 500 businesses in Odessa which have foreign investments. Most of them belong to the former immigrants, who came back to Odessa.
- Odessa attracts foreign investors. You will meet here business people from Israel, Russia, Turkey, Chine, Greece, Netherlands. During last four years sum of investments in Odessa region was increased by 220%.
- The Seventh-Kilometer flea and wholesale market is the largest in Ukraine. The market covers 0.69 square kilometers, has about 6,000 traders, and 150,000 customers per day. Its daily sales, according to the Ukrainian media estimation, were about USD 20 millions in 2004.
This cosmopolitan city has produced many world wide famous people. Here are only a few names: writers Ilf and Petrov, Isaac Babel, and Yuri Olesha; the violinists David Oistrakh, Nathan Milstein and Mischa Elman; the pianists Sviatoslav Richter, Emil Gilels, and Benno Moiseiwitsch; the chess player Efim Geller.
Probably due to their willingness to tolerate and accept people of many different cultures, Odessites are well known for their ironic humor. Nowhere else in the former Soviet Union you will find such «seriously» celebrated April Fool’s Day like in Odessa. No wander it is considered the «Humor Capital» of Ukraine.
City of Odessa is actively developing its tourist infrastructure. They expect that namely tourist industry will become the major source to increase city’s budget. Odessa is not the only big industrial city of Ukraine. But not many of them have that unrepeatable and attractive aura which can be found in Odessa.
You will like this southern city rich in culture, pleasant to live and visit. Odessa’s 19th century houses built of limestone make it light and inviting city. Their warm color together with intricate architectural forms will amaze you and require your attention at every corner. Many areas of Odessa look like an open sky museum. It is difficult to choose which building is better.
There is some brightness, excitement, expectation of something unusual in the Odessa’s streets and its people. Odessa is certainly one-of-a kind city. Let’s look at it closer. I invite you to come here at least one time in your life, believe me, you won’t ever regret…
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