‘Odesa mama’ – this is how locals lovingly call their home city. Odesa is grand and shabby, modern and decadent, energetic and confusing, but it is always real.
But what people love the most about Odesa is its alluring spirit. The Official Capital of Humor in Ukraine, and a home to a yearly Humor Festival, Odesa is an invigorating mix of sandy beaches, leafy streets, Mediterranean sunny climate, and the Odesans themselves – ‘…a breed apart …stylish, cultured, funny, savvy and not easily impressed’.
Nowhere else you can find French and Italian Boulevards, or Greek, Jewish and Albanian Streets. This city is not similar to any other cities in Ukraine.
- If you are in Odesa, do not miss the opportunity to sit for an evening of music at Odesa Opera House.
Opera Theater has unique acoustics and even the quietest whispering from the stage can be heard in any part of the hall. In 2008 Forbes Magazine named Odesa Opera Theater among its 11 exceptional Eastern European sights.
- Check out the Monument to an Orange
And it is not a joke. The legend goes back to the 19th century when Russian Empress Catherine the Great passed away and her son, Emperor Pavel I, took over the ruling power in Russian Empire. Unlike his mother, he did not favour turning Odesa into Empire’s new grand port, especially since most of the funding, previously sent to to the city, miraculously disappeared in the pockets of local government. It was that the Odesans decided to save the city by giving the most extravagant and unexpected present for the Emperor – 4000 of the best Greek oranges! Pavel I loved the present so much that he doubled the city’s funding and Odesa’s construction continued.
- Discover the underworld of Odesa catacombs
World’s largest network of underground catacombs is located right under Odesa. They are long – over 2,500 km and still counting, very dark – only a small portion of it is officially open as a museum, and full of history.
- Make a wish at the ‘Duke’
Duke de Richelieu was a prominent statesman during the Bourbon Restoration, and served as a ranking officer in Russian Imperial Army. The statue faces the ever-famous Potemkin Steps and greets the ships visiting Odesa’s harbor. Locals of all generations really love the Duke and hold it as the prime meeting and dating place! Make a wish at the Duke’s Monument or, if you want to make a fortune, touch the sculpture’s bag of money, hugely famous with tourists!
- Take a photo of the House with One Wall
The House, located on Vorontsov Lane, is minutes away from the Mother-in-Law bridge, and at the first sight can come across just like any other decadent, falling-apart and rusty building in Odesa. However, if you find the right angle, the building looks like it has only the front wall… and nothing else! This awesome optical illusion is what gave the House its multiple names – Devil’s House, Witch’s House, of Flat House.
- Jump on the Mother-in-law Bridge
They say, that it was built by the First Secretary of Odesa Communist Party, for the sole purpose of making the walk from his work to his mother-in-law’s house and her delicious pancakes shorter. While some might claim the story is fake, most of Odesans strongly believe it, as bridge serves no real communication purpose. For those who are in love with adventures, bring your group of friends and try jumping on the bridge. If you jump strong enough, and if the weather is windy, the platform starts shaking!
- Climb Potemkin Steps
There is one architectonic masterpiece in Odessa that deserves a special attention – Potemkin Steps. Opened in 1841 those 192 steps are the peculiar entrance to the city, the most known image of Odessa and the symbol of the place. They were designed to give the optical illusion – when you look from the top you can’t really see the stairs itself but when you look from the bottom you only see stairs.
- Odesa – a perfect summer getaway
Odessa makes a perfect and really affordable summer destination!
- Deribasivska Street
Running horizontally across the city for almost a kilometre, Deribasivska Street is Odessa’s beating heart. In summer this half of the street is a blur of sightseers, buskers and other street artists, and there are long cafe and restaurant terraces where you can take it all in.
- Odesa Passage
The Odessa Passage is part of a sizeable development that includes a hotel on its upper three floors.
It’s all in a lavish Academic style: You’ll be met at the entrances by statues of Mercury and Fortuna, and on the first floor there are stucco mouldings and rows of exuberant sculptures.
- Monument to the Founders of Odesa
Follow Katerynyns’ka Street from the upper landing of the Potemkin Stairs and you will soon be at the foot of a commanding monument that has many clues to Odessa’s past.
On a plinth Catherine the Great stands who in 1794 issued the decree to build a port and city on this spot.
- Langeron Beach
The most popular beach in Odessa is the famous Langeron, immortalized in songs about this amazing city. This beach is located next to one of the most beautiful parks in the city – Shevchenko Park, near the historic center of the city. On Lanzheron there is a picturesque embankment with palm trees, fountains, geysers, benches and beautiful evening illumination. Nearby is the famous Nemo Dolphinarium and the hotel of the same name, as well as restaurants, bars and nightclubs.
- Odesa Museum of Western and Eastern Art
A couple of roads down from the Opera House, on Pushkins’ka Sreet there is a compelling art museum in a noble sky-blue mansion from 1858. The museum was founded in 1923 and its art comes from a mix of private collections and pieces assembled by Odessa’s university.
The name is a little misleading, as apart from some porcelain, weapons and pieces of furniture nearly all the art is from western Europe, mainly the Netherlands and Italy.
- Shevchenko Park
There is a monument to Shevchenko at the entrance, as well as one to Tsar Alexander II which has been restored since the Soviet period.
The city has so much to offer, so many layers to discover that everyone will find something for him/her there with a plenty of culture, history or fun to immerse into.