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Primorsky (Potemkin) Stairs



The stairs descending from Primorsky Blvd. to the port, were design by Avraam Melnikov, a St. Petersburg architect, and F. K. Boffo in 1825. The stairs were built in 1837-1841 in classical style.

The steps were made famous to many people in the former Soviet Union by the 1925 film "Battleship Potemkin" by Sergey Einenstein. This film glorified the June 14, 1905 mutiny of the battleship Potemkin.

(Refer to Potemkin sailor monument, for history of the mutiny.)

After the Soviet revolution, the Primorsky Stairs where renamed Potemkin Stairs to honor the memory of the Battleship Potemkin. After Ukrainian independence, like many streets in Odessa, the Potemkin Stairs name was returned to their original name, Primorsky Stairs. All Odessites still know and refer to the stairs after their Soviet name.

Photo by Galen Frysinger and Corbis.com

The stairs height is 30 meters, its length 140 meters. It has ten flights of stairs and ten landings.

The steps were originally made of grayish-green sandstone brought from the extreme northeastern Italian town of Trieste (at the time it was an Austrian town). In 1933, because of years of erosion, the stairs were reconstructed with granite.

Originally the stairs had 200 steps, today there are only 192 steps. Eight lower steps were buried when the foundation of the port was extended.

The stairs possess some igneous optical illusions.

If looking down the stairs a person can only see the landings. On either side are parapets which seem parallel. This was created by gradually widening the stairways downwards. The top stair is 12.5 meters (41 feet) and the bottom step is 21.6 meters (70.8 feet).

From the base of the stairs, a person can only see the stairs, and cannot see the landings. The stairway appears longer than it is in reality.

Derelict elevator
photo by
Galen Frysinger

On the East of the stairway is a now derelict elevator, built in 1970, which broke down in the mid-1990's.