There´s a city of contrasts that many a traveler has overlooked, which happens to be Eastern Europe´s best kept secret. Odessa, Ukraine actually rivals the classic cities of Europe that tourists tend to flock to.
Undoubtedly, the points of interest are worthy of an outing, and I have found that Odessa roused my appetite for a return visit. Other pleasant surprises lie behind each corner and are filled with fountains or monuments.
Founded in 1794 by Russia´s Catherine II, the Odessa was used to secure the Russian Empire´s southern boarders along the Black Sea. The city surpassed all expectations once it was established as a seaport and became one the biggest and wealthiest cities of Russia. Housing over 1 million residents presently, this Ukraine city still is an important seaport for all of Eastern Europe.
Points of Interest
The historical buildings and palaces of Odessa often encompass art collections. The Fine Arts Museum is filled with wonderful treasures and is frequently compared to other famous museums around the world. Odessa Archeological Museum contains artifacts dating back from the 5th to the 1st centuries B.C. Discover the wax and literature museums and aquarium too. Churches are fully equipped with examples of ornate Russian Orthodox architecture inside and out.
The performing arts of theater, concerts, ballet and opera are well represented in Odessa with several venues for your artistic enjoyment. The Opera House has a superb decor blended with elements of the Italian and French Renaissance.
Discos and blues, jazz and even country western clubs are splattered all throughout the Odessa. Nightlife reigns here year round and especially along the beach front during the summer.
Bet you didn´t know that such a striking city as Odessa could have great sand beaches too? If you are lucky enough to visit during the summer, don´t leave home without your bathing suit. Besides swimming, you can rent paddleboats, rowboats and small sailboats.
I was most impressed with Odessa´s public transportation system. It was so easy to get around with a choice of taxis, trams, busses and even a mini funicular railway. Built in 1902, the funicular happens to one of the first in the Russian Empire and runs beside the Potemkin Staircase. Once on top, you´ll gain a fabulous view of Odessa with a backdrop of the sea.