Odesa is a beautiful city on the northwest coast of the Black Sea situated 32 km from the mouth of the Dnestr River. Its population is now approximately 1,100.000. The city`s name is derived from Odessos, a nearby ancient Greek settlement (sixth Century before our era) in reality situated where is now the city of Varna, Bulgaria. It was founded in 1794 on the site of a Turkish settlement – the fortress Khadzibei – after the armies of Catherine II had wrested control of the Black Sea coast from the Turks.
Odesa is situated on terraced hills overlooking Odesa Bay, an inlet of the Black Sea that forms a natural harbour. From the central part of the city, a monumental stairway – somehow the symbol of the city – descends to the waterfront. It was made famous in the Russian film Potemkin, directed by Sergei Eisenstein, which depicts the naval mutiny that occurred during the Revolution of 1905. This stairway used to carry the name of Richelieu, from Armand Emmanuel du Plessis de Chinon, Duke of Richelieu, a French politician (1766-1822), who served in the Russian army against the Turks and who was nominated Governor of the province of Odesa (1803-1814) by the Tsar Alexander I.
Odesa grew rapidly, especially in the latter half of the 19th century, when railroad construction in the southern Ukraine made it Russia`s principal port for grain exports. Following the Bolshevik Revolution, the nation`s economy turned inward and Odessa stagnated. Its development was also set back during World War II when it fell to German and Romanian forces in October 1941 after a 69-day siege…
Odesa was and is maybe still a leading educational and cultural centre, the seat of Odesa State University (1865) and Odesa Polytechnic Institute (1918) and a number of specialized institutes. It also has an opera and both Ukrainian and Russian dramatic theatres. The Ukraine Experimental Institute for Eye Diseases and Tissue Therapy is also situated in Odesa.
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