Welcome to Odessa: The Pearl
of the Black Sea
And the city, sunny and free,
Stands with its front to the winds,
And even wars, not to mention waves,
Have no great power to shake it.
Odessa, Ukraine has always
shown more color, spunk, and irreverence than other
cities in the former Soviet Union. There's an excitement,
an anything-is-possible feeling in the streets. The
city has a reputation for its irreverent humor that
is flaunt each April 1st with Odessa's most famous
holiday, "humor day".
Odessa is referred to as
the "Pearl of the Black Sea" is the 3rd largest city
in Ukraine, the largest city along the Black Sea,
and the most important city of Ukraine for trade.
Odessa's mild climate, warm waters and sunlit beaches
attract hundreds of thousands of people year around.
Its shady lanes, beautiful lightly pastel buildings
and cozy squares impart to the city a certain air
|A kaleidoscope of colors
Odessa is simply enchanting with its marvelous
architecture. Odessa's history as a thriving enterprise
has left the city with some splendid architecture
from the 18th and 19th centuries and a multifaceted,
irrepressible spirit. Some buildings display a carious
mixture of different styles, such as distinct French
architecture with a distinct Russian flavor, and some
are built in the Art Nouveau Style which was in vogue
at the turn of the century. Its stately 19th century
classical architecture is set on orderly planned streets
that are surrounded with green space, giving the city
an air of elegance. Strikingly ornate buildings of
the late 19th and early 20th century are reminiscent
of Right Bank Paris.
buildings in Odessa were built with white stone consisting
of calcareous materials imbedded with seashells, which
appears to be saturated with hot sunshine. This gives
many of the city's buildings a whitewashed appearance.
The extracted limestone resulted in the formation
of an entire labyrinth of underground galleries.
of the few planned cities in Ukraine, Odessa's central
core is laid out in a grid. The first city plan designed
by the engineer F. Devollan in the late 18th century
was executed by the generations of Odessa architects
that followed. As early as the first half of the 19th
century, the numerous landowners who had moved to
Odessa attracted by the profitable grain trade, started
constructing their private residences. As a rule,
they would build palace compounds: two-storied mansions
with forecourts, wrought iron grilles and porticos
indicating the entrance. Even today, the formal halls
of these palaces are strikingly opulent. The mansions
of wealthy merchants and factory-owners built to the
designs of the best Odessa architects were concealed
in the verdure of Frantsuzsky Boulevard.
Alexander Kuprin, the prominent Russian author,
wrote of Odessa in his "Autumnal Flowers":
"Flashing on the
left and on the right are enchanting glimpses
of Odessa millionaires' villas with extravagant
decorated with dragons and coats-of-arms;
brightly lit terraces in the depth of the gardens
adorned with Chinese lanterns,
a kaleidoscope of colors in the foregardens and
on the flowerbeds;
rare plants with intoxicating aromas..."
|Not simply women--but romance
|With its balmy
climate, seaside vistas and sandy beaches, and year
round lively street life, Odessa has an ambience more
Mediterranean than Slavic. Odessa is a bustling industrial
hub but also an alluring holiday destination with dozens
of s large sanatoriums, miles of sandy beaches, and
arguably the most beautiful women in the world. Wrote
one admirer of Odessa:
of Deribasovskaya, there are beauties to suit every
hats furs, diamonds…St. Petersburg women are thin,
no number of revolutions will suffice to beat their
haughtiness out of them.
Odessa women are the Parisiennes of Russia, not
simply women--but romance"
everything reminds of Europe:
The colors gay,
The air's like syrup;
Throughout the streets,
Where aproud SlavCan a Spaniard meet;
Forget not sons of Land Egypt
--"Eugene Onegin" Pushkin
|Never I say in any country so many nationalities
almost opposite of manners, languages, clothes,religions,
and customs on such a little territory.
Richelieu wrote in a letter to Emperor Alexander
Over 100 nationalities reside
here, and non-Ukrainian inhabitants make up more than
45% of the regional population. The city is rife with
opportunism; corruption is said to permeate official
circles, and bribery is an art form.
|A Second Home
Odessa, an enchanting and unique city. We hope that
by reading this guide you learn to love Odessa as much
as we have, and as you leave, you feel as Pushkin
did, over 150
|I'm sad to say farewell to the sea.
Your hum at night will long be with me;
Wherever I am; in woods or steppes
I close my eyes to see your grace:
Your sparking waves,
Your rocks and bays.
--"To the Sea" Pushkin
Top of Page
Introduction inspired and adopted
from the following:
Welcome to Ukraine, Airport
Guide to the Soviet Union,
Official Shield of Odessa
General particulars in this guide
Dollars and Hryvna
Ukrainians think and speak in US dollars and hyrvnia
(Hr) interchangeably. This text reflects this view,
listing both dollars and hyrvnia throughout the
Although it is technically illegal to purchase
products in dollars, like many Ukrainian laws this
is not strictly enforced.
At the time of this writing the exchange rate was:
$1 US = 5.10 Hyrvnia
In the past three years, the Hyrvina has fluctuated
to as high as 5.50 Hr. The best way to convert dollars
to Hryvnia is 5 Hr = $1 US
When you exchange money in Kiev and most other
large Ukrainian cities (except in the airport, train
and bus station) the exchange rate is usually better
than in Odessa.
here for more on money matters and exchanging money
Throughout this site we use the word "Odessites"
the English version of the Russian word "Îäåññèò"
pronounced a-de-sEt (with a hard "E").
Compass directions and Orientation
Throughout this book we use the directions North,
South, East, West. It is important to note:
north in this book is defined as the port, or
the huge Kempinski hotel. Actually North is to
the left / west of the hotel. In the center the
train station is to the south.
way to remember compass directions is in the center/old
part of the city, that to the north and west is
water. North is the port and Kempinski hotel,
West are the beaches and Shevchenko Park (Ïàðê
numbers are always:
do not use the compass for directions in daily
life. Most Ukrainians could not tell a person
where North or South is in relation to landmarks
in their city.
I would like the following people who made this
- Katy Wagner For work on the restaurant
guide and for significant contributions to the city
- Nadeshda for the design and layout of
- Alex Sayassov for logistics support
- Oleksander Kanayeva For extensive translating
work and moral support.
Tacina For consultation and significant contributions
to the Survival Russian section.
Richardson For consultation and significant
contributions to the History section.
Zhitkova For translating and extensive work
on the map.
- My parents, Lee
and Margaret Bailey for their emotional and
crucial financial support; and for always believing
in me, when no one else did.
club, at Pushkinskaya 34 (Ïóøêèíñêàÿ).
Relating to this project the club patiently answered
many perplexing questions about the history, culture,
and mentality of the Ukrainian people. Coming
from a wide array of social and economical backgrounds
they club was always a 'good control' on all parts
of Ukrainian society. More importantly, the club
was a source of all my many dearest friends here
in Odessa. Living here almost three years I have
seen so many of these beutiful people change and
grow, through different tribulations and also
victories, and I have to say that I have grown
with them. The memories of the members of the
club will always hold a very special and dear
part of my heart.
In the last ten years, since the collapse of the Soviet
Union, Odessa has changed almost as dramatically as
the first ten years of the Soviet Revolution. Many
businesses move frequently, change telephone numbers,
or go out of business, much more often than in more
stable Western countries. In light of this, some of
the information contained within this guide may quickly
become inaccurate. We have tried to provide an accurate
snapshot of Odessa at the time of print, but please
keep in mind the rapid changes that are still taking
place in this city.
We have tried
to make this book as accurate as possible, but some
errors are unfortunately inevitable. The publisher
takes no responsibility for errors that may occur.
by Travis Lee Bailey, while living in Odessa from
April 2000 to August 2002