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Odessa is a great town. It is one of the best cities in Ukraine. A century ago it was unofficially the second best city in the Russian Empire after St.Petersburg while being the fourth in the empire in terms of economics and population officially. Now it is also next to the capital, Kiev. Although Odessa is not the biggest city in Ukraine (in fact, it is again the fourth largest city in the country), in terms of beauty, history, culture, wealth, sights, architecture, recreation its overall place is the second after Kiev, the capital (although in particular it is often the first). Out of all the 25 provincial centers in Ukraine only Odessa boasts being on the sea coast.

Odessa was first mentioned in 1415 and belonged to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The name was Kotsyubey. Later it was seized by the Ottoman Empire and for the next three hundred years belonged to Turkey until in 1794 Russia took this area from Turkey. The Russians founded a new port here and a hundred years later claimed it was the city rather than the port they had founded, but this is not correct. However, there is nothing left of the fortress, and the streets and the city layout are new.

In fact, this place has always been populated. Early Greek colonies were discovered in several locations of Odessa, including one in Primorskiy Boulevard (the seafront) and Jevahovah Hill. The ancient Greek city of Istrian was located there. The settlements were erased by the Goths. In the Middle ages there was a town named Jinestra here later renamed to Hajibey.

Odessa has always been multinational. Presently it is in Ukraine but when it was founded it was a Russian city. Even nowadays odessites speak Russian. But it was not only the Russians who populated Odessa while they were the biggest part of the city population. Jews, Greeks, Italians, Frenchmen, Ukrainians, Germans, Armenians and many other nations from Europe and Asia came to live here and in the Odessa province.

Thanks to the good location and the multinational population, Odessa quickly became a trade, cultural, industrial and scientific center of the country.

Duke de Richelieu (Armand Emmanuel Sophie Septemanie de Vignerot du Plessis, 5th duc de Richelieu), a grand-grand-grand-grand-nephew of the famous French cardinal, became General Governor of Odessa and the province in 1803. He had taken part in the taking of the Turkish fortress that was where Odessa is now. He ended up in Odessa after fleeing from the revolution in France in 1789, first to Austria then to Russia. He is one of those who laid the foundation of Odessa wealth and greatness for the rest of the century. When monarchy had been restored in France he returned there to become the prime minister. He died in 1822, and the odessites were deeply sorrowed about that. One of the first monuments in Odessa appeared on the seafront facing the bay and the port. It is referred to simply as Duke. De Richelieu is depicted like a Roman, holding a script in his hand and welcoming ships with the other hand. Now it is the symbol of Odessa.

There were several plague epidemics in Odessa in the 19th century, including the worst one in 1812 when a fifth of the population perished.

Odessa did not suffer much during the wars until the second world war. It was shelled by English and French ships in 1854, and by Turkish ships in 1914. German troops were in Odessa twice: in 1918 and 1941-44. The second time was a disaster. The Nazis exterminated nearly all Jews in Odessa. Before the war there were about 100,000 Jews in Odessa (in fact, up to 40% of the population in Odessa were Jewish throughout the 19th century and until the second world war), when Odessa was liberated in 1944, there were only 600 Jews there… But the Nazis did not only kill the Jews.

After the fall of the Soviet Union Odessa found itself part of independent Ukraine. For the first ten years the city was in a bit of turmoil like the entire former USSR. However, since the beginning of the new millennium things have changed a lot. Odessa today and a score ago is, like people say in Odessa, two big differences. The city has blossomed out and is a real pearl. Most of the streets have been renamed back to the pre-revolutionary names, a lot of new stores, restaurants, cafes have come into being. There is definitely something to see and to do in Odessa now! And, Odessa girls, who have always been very attractive, are absolutely gorgeous now.

So if you have not been to Odessa yet make sure you right this wrong!

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