Historic Center of the Port City of Odessa


Historic Center of the Port City of Odessa is part of the Tentative list of Ukraine in order to qualify for inclusion in the World Heritage List.

The Historic Centre of Odessa represents the urban structure of a multi-ethnic port city from the late 18th and 19th centuries. Odessa was founded in 1794 by the Russian Empress Catherine the Great as a military and commercial port for the Black Sea and Mediterranean regions. The property comprises the ensemble of Classicistic buildings and monument, the system of harbours and the coastal area.

Map of Historic Center of the Port City of Odessa

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The coordinates shown for all tentative sites were produced as a community effort. They are not official and may change on inscription.

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Japan / USA / Europe - 12-Oct-22 -

Historic Center of the Port City of Odessa (T) by Tsunami

I have been to Odessa twice…in 2004 and 2010.

Most Ukrainians would agree that Odessa today has two centers. One is by the port area and the other is an area called Arcadia, the largest summer party / beach resort in Ukraine. But this nomination of course has to do with the former, the historic center.

But Odessa (even just the historic center) does not feel like a city with many cultural monuments in unified style like, say, Lviv does. Like Varna (Odessos in Greek) in Bulgaria, Odessa was a port city settled by the Greeks and has developed for centuries with an international flair. As such, it is nominated as a multi-faceted port city, which makes good sense, and you can find cultural monuments and buildings in many different styles, among businesses as usual in the historic center, that also includes a fair share of American fast food restaurants. 

I would say the central intersection of the historic center is at Derybasivska St, the city’s main thoroughfare (often pedestrians only), that runs east-west, and Katerynynska street that runs north-south. Walking on the latter north from the intersection, you turn north-east at the large statue of Catherine the Great, go past the statue of Duke of Richelieu, now the city’s symbol, and go down the Potemkin Stairs to reach the port.

I’m all for inscribing Odessa asap to safeguard it, even though it's not likely that it works.

But what I’m hearing is truly sad and mad. They are trying to get rid of / rename everything that has to do with Russia in the city, most notably things related to Catherine the Great, who is credited with founding the current city, and Pushkin? If they do so, it sounds like almost half of Odessa will be gone. Not only there are statues of Catherine the Great and Pushkin at two of the most prominent places in Odessa (The former is as described above, and the latter is in front of the Odessa City Hall), but also two of the main streets in the center are named after them (Katerynynska is as described above, and Pushkinska also runs north-south, connecting the main train station and the City Hall, with the Pushkin Museum just south of the City Hall). So much for authenticity...? How does UNESCO treat cancel culture? 

But the city’s most famous site is perhaps the Potemkin Stairs, named after Putin's favorite 18th-century Russian commander Grigory Potemkin and made famous by Soviet filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin (1925).  Potemkin the battleship was also part of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. 

When Muslims occupied Christian areas in Cyprus, just for example, they often destroyed Christian monuments, but when Christians occupied Muslim areas, they often left Islamic monuments alone and are proud of doing so. It’s called Tolerance. But from the Ukrainians' point of view, they are all in total shock and anger right now, so it's no wonder they want to right the wrong now!  In any case I understand that at this time nobody outside Ukraine should be telling the Ukrainians what to do... (I know that the bust of Pushkin at the Dytynets park, a TWHS, in Chernihiv has already been removed since the war started.) 

There is an astronomical observatory in a park east of the center that is also a TWHS. 

BTW, there is a direct bus between the two Odesas in Ukraine and Bulgaria running even today. This bus line goes through or near several WHS and TWHS. Just about when I was thinking of taking this bus, the war erupted. 

Zoë Sheng

Chinese-Canadian - 25-Nov-19 -

Historic Center of the Port City of Odessa (T) by Zoë Sheng

I actually didn't plan on going to Odessa. I love Kiev and spent a week there a few years ago almost feeling like a resident living in an apartment at the golden gate and leaving a coin at Panteleimon every morning on my way out. From Kiev I wanted to take the train to Tiraspol (Transnistria) but it was already sold out. Kind of surprising really but instead I took a flight to Odessa and took the train onward from there after a day looking at the town. It was better than the long train journey.

I believe there are already way too many "historic centers" on the WH list. It's maybe unfair to Odessa because some historic centers around Europe suck and got their status earlier when no comparison studies were requested or made, because Odessa is nice to spend time in and check out the buildings while just having a nice relaxing day to walk around, have some food and drinks, well, the typical "old town" affair I suppose. To quote Wikipedia: "Its historical architecture has a style more Mediterranean than Russian, having been heavily influenced by French and Italian styles. Some buildings are built in a mixture of different styles, including Art Nouveau, Renaissance and Classicist.." It was also mostly spared in WW2 and retains the original buildings. Probably should be a WHS a couple of decades ago.

Don't forget to visit the Pushkin museum.

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