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Encyclopedia > Odesa
For other uses, see Odessa (disambiguation).

Odessa or Odesa (Ukrainian Одеса, Russian Одесса, Turkish Hacıbey) is a Ukrainian portcity on the Black Sea and the center of country's Odes'ka oblast'. Population 1,012,500 (2004).


From 18191858 Odessa was a free port. In Soviet times it was the most important trade port and also a Soviet naval base. Since January 1, 2000 the Quarantine Pier of Odessa trade sea port was declared a free port and free economic zone for 25 years.


Odessa is a warm water port, but of limited military value. Turkey's control of the Dardanelles and Bosporus has enabled NATO to control water traffic between Odessa and the Mediterranean Sea. Actually, Odessa hosts two big ports: Odessa itself and Yuzhny (also internationally important oil terminal), situated in the city's suburbs. Another important port, Illichivs'k, is located in the same oblast to the south-west of Odessa. Together they make a big transportation junction integrated with railways. Odessa's oil- and chemical-processing facilities connected to Russia's and EU's respective networks with strategic pipelines.


Odessa is the fifth-largest city in Ukraine and its most important trading city. In the 19th century it was the fourth city of Russia, after Moscow, St. Petersburg and Kiev. Its historical architecture looks more Mediterranean than Russian, having been heavily influenced by French and Italian styles. Odessa has always possessed a spirit of freedom and ironical humour, probably by virtue of its location and its willingness to accept many different peoples.


History

In the 14th century, Crimean Tatars traded in the Odessa region. During the Russo-Turkish War, from 17871791, the Ukrainian Black Sea Cossacks conquered the Tartar settlement of Khadzhibei (Hacıbey) and the Turkish fortress of Eni-Dunia, near the city's present-day location. The Spaniard in Russian service De Ribas helped lead this conquest.


Odessa was officially founded in 1794 as a Russian naval fortress on lands annexed from Turkey as a result of the Treaty of Iasi in 1792. The city was named after the ancient Greek-Roman colony Odessos in Thracia, and in 1795 it was Empress Catherine II's wish to use this Hellenic name for the political reasons.


From 18031814 a Frenchman, the Duc de Richelieu, was nominated governor of Odessa. Having fled the French Revolution, he had served in Catherine's army against the Turks. He is credited with designing the city and organising its amenities and infrastructure, and is considered one of the founding fathers of Odessa.


During 18231824 the great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin lived in internal exile in Odessa. In his letters he wrote that Odessa was a city where "you can smell Europe. French is spoken and there are European papers and magazines to read".


During the Crimean War from 18531856, Odessa was bombarded by British and French naval forces. As trade grew, so did Odessa, becoming Russia's largest grain-exporting port. In 1866 the city was linked by rail with Kiev and Kharkov as well as Jassy, Romania.


The family of Leo Tolstoy owned a palace in the city which can still be visited.


Most of 19th century city houses were built of limestone mined nearby the construction sites. Abandoned mines were later used and broadened by local smugglers. This created a complicated labyrinth of underground tunnels beneath Odessa, known as "catacombs". Now they are a great attraction for extreme tourists. But such tours are unorganized and dangerous because the exact maps of this network don't exist.


From the 18th through 19th centuries, a large Jewish community has migrated to Odessa from western parts of the country, making it the most Jewish among Russian Empire's big cities.


In 1905 Odessa was the site of a workers' uprising supported by the crew of the Russian battleship Potemkin (also see Battleship Potemkin uprising) and Lenin's Iskra. Following the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 during World War I, Odessa was occupied by several groups, including Ukrainian Tsentral'na Rada, the French, the Reds and Russian White Army. Finally, in 1920, the Reds took control of Odessa and united it with the Ukrainian SSR, later becoming part of the USSR. The famous motion picture The Battleship Potemkin fictionalized this event and included a scene where hundreds of Russian citizens were murdered on the great stone staircase (now popularly known as the "Potemkin Steps"), in one of the most famous scenes in motion picture history. At the top of the steps, which lead down to the port, stands a statue of Richelieu. The actual massacre took place in streets nearby, not on the steps themselves, but the movie caused many to visit Odessa to see the site of the "slaughter". The "Odessa Steps" continue to be a tourist attraction in Odessa. Sergei Eisenstein's film was made at "Odessa's Cinema Factory", one the oldest cinema studios in Russia.


The writer Isaac Babel was born in the city, which has also produced several famous musicians, including the violinists Nathan Milstein, Mischa Elman and David Oistrakh, and the pianists Benno Moiseiwitsch, Sviatoslav Richter and Emil Gilels. The chess player Efim Geller was born in the city. (All listed, except for Richter, are representatives of the city's Jewish community.)


From 19211922 the people of Odessa suffered from a great famine that occurred as a result of the War. During World War II, from 19411944, Odessa was occupied by Romanian and German forces, and suffered severe casualties. Approximately 280,000 Odessans (mostly Jews) were either massacred or deported (for more, see the Odessa Massacre). Odessa was finally liberated by the Soviet Army in April of 1944. It was one of the first four Soviet cities to be awarded the title Hero City in 1945.


During the 1960s and 1970s the city grew tremendously. But in the 1970s and then 1990s, the majority of Odessa's Jews migrated to Israel, United States and other Western countries, abandoning the entire apartment blocks. Domestic migration to Moscow and Leningrad was also tremendous, forming the whole communities of Odessans there. The most popular Russian show-businesspeople from Odessa are Mikhail Zhvanetskiy (legendary humorist writer, who began his career as port engineer) and Roman Kartzev (comic). Their success in 1970s contributed to Odessa's established status of a "capital of Soviet humour". Later a few humour festivals were established in the city.


In 1991, after the collapse of Communism, the city became part of newly independent Ukraine. Today Odessa is a city of 1.1 million people (excepting unregistered migrants). The city's industries include shipbuilding, oil refining, chemicals, metalworking and food processing. Odessa is also a Ukrainian naval base and home to a fishing fleet.


Geography and Features

Odessa is situated on terraced hills overlooking a small harbor. The weather in Odessa is mild and dry with average temperatures in January of -2 C (29 F), and July of 22 C (73 F). Odessa averages only 35 cm (14 in) of precipitation annually.


Odessa remains an important holiday destination and has many therapeutic resorts. The primary language spoken is Russian, though Ukrainian is the official language. The city is a mix of many nationalities and ethnic groups, including Ukrainian, Russian, Jewish, Greek, Romanian, Bulgarian, Caucasian, Turkish, and Vietnamese, among others.


Links

  • Apartments in Odessa. (http://flats.h1.ru/odessa.html)

 
 

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