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Odessa Tours

  • Odessa Opera House

Industrial Odessa is a major seaport and transport hub perched on the shores of the Black Sea. It is the fifth largest city in Ukraine and a sprawling urban powerhouse with a population of one million. The city’s main industries are ship-building, metal-work, oil refining and chemical processing, but it is a bastion of intellectual refinement too, boasting numerous museums dedicated to art, literature, maritime history, cinema and archaeology.

Like most Eastern European cities, it is endowed with handsome historic architecture too – don’t miss the Odessa Opera House, an exceptionally fine neo-baroque structure with a luxurious rococo interior and impeccable acoustics. Otherwise, head to Deribasovskaya Street, a pedestrian avenue overflowing with fine buildings, terraced cafés, chic bars and upscale restaurants – the place to glimpse the city at its most sophisticated.

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None of Odessa’s landmarks are as famous the Primorsky Stairs, better known as the Potemkin Stairs, immortalised by the Sergei Eisenstein film ‘The Battleship Potemkin’. The film dramatized a 1905 workers uprising, supported by the crew of the Potemkin, and depicted the massacre of hundreds of Odessans on the stairs. In fact, the murders took place in the surrounding streets, but many continue to make pilgrimages to the 192-step flight designed by Italian architect Francesco Boffo.

Pre-dated by a small Tatar settlement founded by the Khan of Crimea, the modern city of Odessa was founded by decree by the Russian Empress Catherine the Great in 1794. It grew robustly, drawing Albanians, Armenians, Bulgarians, French, Jews, Turks, Russians, Ukranians and many other immigrants from across Europe. In the 19th century, it was the fourth largest city in Imperial Russia. During the post-war period, it was a vital naval base and the most important trade port in the Soviet Union. It continued to grow through the late 20th century.

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