Odessa Travel GuideEdit This The best resource for sights, hotels, restaurants, bars, what to do and see
Odessa ( Ukrainian : Одеса , Russian : Одесса ; also referred to as Odesa ) is the fourth largest city in Ukraine . It is the administrative center of the Odessa Oblast ( province ), and is designated as its own separate raion (district) within the oblast. Odessa is a major port on the Black Sea .
The 2001 population was 1,029,000, and estimated to be around 1,012,500 in 2004.
An ancient Greek colony had once occupied the site of the city. Numerous monuments of antiquity confirm links between this territory and the Eastern Mediterranean . In the Middle Ages these lands were a part of the Kievan Rus , Galich and Volyn Principality, the Golden Horde , the Great Lithuanian Principality , the Crimean Khanate and the Ottoman Empire . Crimean Tatars traded there in the 14th century . In the course of Russian – Turkish wars these lands were captured by Russia at the end of the 18th century.
From 1819 – 1858 Odessa was a free port ( porto franco ). During the Soviet period it was the most important port of trade in the U.S.S.R. and a Soviet naval base . On January 1 , 2000 the Quarantine Pier of Odessa trade sea port was declared a free port and free economic zone for a term of 25 years.
Odessa is a warm water port , but of limited military value. Turkey 's control of the Dardanelles and Bosphorus has enabled NATO to control water traffic between Odessa and the Mediterranean Sea . The city of Odessa hosts two important ports: Odessa itself and Yuzhny (also an internationally important oil terminal ), situated in the city's suburbs. Another important port, Illichivs'k (or Ilyichyovsk ), is located in the same oblast , to the south-west of Odessa. Together they represent a major transportation junction integrated with railways. Odessa's oil- and chemical-processing facilities are connected to Russia 's and EU 's respective networks by strategic pipelines.
In the 19th century it was the fourth city of Imperial Russia , after Moscow and St. Petersburg , and Warsaw . Its historical architecture has a flavor more Mediterranean than Russian, having been heavily influenced by French and Italian styles. Odessa has always possessed a spirit of freedom and ironic humour, probably by virtue of its location and its willingness to accept and tolerate people of many different backgrounds.
Odessa is a popular tourist destination, with many therapeutic resorts in and around the city. The Filatov Institute of Eye Diseases & Tissue Therapy is one of the leading institutes for eye care.
The Tolstoy , Vorontsov , and Potocki families owned palaces in Odessa, which can still be visited.
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.)
The most popular Russian show-business people from Odessa are Yakov Smirnoff ( comedian ), Mikhail Zhvanetsky (legendary humorist writer, who began his career as port engineer) and Roman Kartsev ( comedian ). Their success in 1970s contributed to Odessa's established status of a "capital of Soviet humour". Later several humour festivals were established in the city, including the celebration of the April Fool's Day .
Most of the city's 19th century houses were built of limestone mined nearby. Abandoned mines were later used and broadened by local smugglers . This created a complicated labyrinth of underground tunnels beneath Odessa, known as " catacombs ". They are a now a great attraction for extreme tourists . Such tours, however, are not officially sanctioned and are dangerous because the layout of the catacombs has not been fully mapped and the tunnels themselves are unsafe. These tunnels are a primary reason why subway was never built in Odessa.
Part or or all of this text stems from the original article at: http://www.2odessa.com guide to Odessa, Ukraine; wikipedia