Bohemian and cosmopolitan, Odessa was the fashionable place to be during the Russian Empire of the 19th century. It was home to a high percentage of the country’s Jewish population, although many died in the Odessa Massacre of 1944 and many more emigrated to Israel or America. While the city suffered during the wars of the 20th century, it retains much of its old-world charm. It’s one of the biggest ports in the Ukraine, and has taken to capitalism with enthusiasm. The people have a reputation as jokers – and gangsters.
Just over 1 million (a bit smaller than Dallas)
- Resorts & Beaches: Holidaying families and tourists crowd the beaches of Odessa. The resorts draw a seedier crowd, with lots of drugs and wild parties.
- Boulevards: The old streets of Odessa are wide, elegant boulevards; the city resembles Paris in some lights, or Las Vegas in others.
- The Potemkin Stairs: A famous stone staircase, running from Primorsky Boulevard down to the pier. The best known landmark in the city.
- Odessa Opera House: The grand old opera house is world-famous, but currently shrouded in scaffolding and sheeting as it undergoes repairs. It’s been sinking unevenly for decades.
- St. Nikolai by the Sea: A small modern church dedicated to the patron saint of sailors; popular among the families of those who work on the docks or on the ships.
- Itaka: A raucous nightclub with a Greek theme; it’s built to resemble a classical temple and the nightlife is bacchanalian.