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Duke de Richelieu Monument



History of Emmanual Richelieu
Duke Armand Emmanual Richelieu was Odessa's first mayor. Legend has it that the Duke wanted to build a new city as beautiful as his native Paris.

The Duke was born in Paris to an aristocratic family in 1776. The Duke emigrated from France during the French revolution, settling in Russia. In 1790 he joined the Russian army in the Crimean war against Turkey, where he met De Ribas (See Deribasovskaya Street for more on De Ribas). After the war he went back to France but soon he returned to Russia and reenlisted in the Russian Army.

Czar Alexander appointed Richelieu governor of the Novarussia (new Russia) Area, which included Odessa, on January 27, 1803. He was the governor of Odessa between 1803-1814. During his governership, the first educational systems were established and the first museum was built (the Archeological museum). In 1812 an epidemic plague enveloped the city and one fifth of the population died, Richelieu visited infirmaries and helped bury the dead. (see plague hill)

At the end of his service Richelieu reported to the emperor that the population had grown five times in ten years to 35,000 and that trade turnover had reached 25 million rubles.

When Napoleon was exiled to Elba in 1914, the Duke ended his service to Odessa and returned to France.

Odessites loved their first mayor. When Richelieu left Odessa on September 27, 1814, 5,000 people followed his carriage, almost the entire city saw him off. The Duke then served twice as Prime Minister of France.

"[Duke Armand Emmanual Richelieu lavished most of his fortune on Odessa, the city he ruled and loved… The duke was discerning and reverent of Odessa, and guarded his interests as though they were his private affairs. The duke proved a capable leader and expanded trade and agriculture during his administration. "

"The Story is told by [Odessites] that the duke returned to his beloved city of Odessa after having bid France farewell for the last time, and then lived most of his remaining days in the city and spent the last of his wealth there on worthy projects. With his wealth gone, penniless, the duke, with only the clothes he wore and aged in years, slowly descended the great staircase to the sea without the acknowledgement of assistance of the local citizens and left his beloved city for that of Sevastopol on the Crimean peninsula. There as the story goes, he died in poverty [in 1822], and when the people of Odessa discovered what had transpired, they were filled with great sorrow and mournful of their neglect of their beloved governor, and as a measure of their remembrance to him, they generously contributed funds which they used to build and erect his monument overlooking the splendid stairway to the sea."
--Lydle Brinkle, Guide to the Soviet Union

In 1854, during the shelling of Odessa by the French and English in the Crimean War, the corner of the granite pedestal was blown off by a cannon ball. The damage was later hidden by an iron panel. A copy of this naval shell was later imbedded in its pedestal, and can still be seen today.

(See the Crimean War Gun, for more information on the shelling of Odessa during the Crimea War)


The Roman-toga figure was designed by the Russian sculptor, Ivan Petrovich Martos. The statue was cast in bronze by Yefimov in 1826-1828, and unveiled in April 1829. It is the first monument erected in the city.

The Duke sculpture is made of bronze and has three bas-reliefs symbolizing trade, justice, and agriculture.

Bas-reliefs symbolizing
Bas-reliefs symbolizing
Bas-reliefs symbolizing


The metal plaque states:
To Duke Emmanual De Richelieu who had
governed the Novorossiysky Krai (Territory)
from 1803 to1814 and had set the basis of Odessa's well-being.
The people of all classes from this city and from Ekaterinoslavskaya,
Khersonskaya and Tavricheskaya Guberniya (Province),
are grateful for his unforgettable achievements,
have erected this monument in 1826
in the time of Novorossiysky Governor-General Count Vorontsov.

Historic photos of the Duke de Richelieu Monument

Continue your virtul tour by walking to the Primorsky (Potemkin) Stairs
Return to the Primorsky Boulevard (Приморский Бульвар) Overview
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