The diamond of Black Sea
The name Odessa, the feminine version of the Homeric hero Odysseus, which was given to the city by the Russian Catherine the Great, is surely not by chance..
Located at the northwestern shore of the Black Sea, Odessa is fairly called “The diamond of the Black Sea” or according to Alexander Pushkin, the famous Russian poet, “when you visit Odessa you feel like breathing the whole Europe”. Τhe timeless presence of Hellenism in combination with the natural beauties of the city had important influence in arts’ diffusion and in forming astrong historical and cultural background. The presence of Hellenism in Odessa is almost everywhere - you see it and you feel it!
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Born by the ancient Miletus around 500 B.C., as the archaeological ruins have shown, and formed piece by piece by the constant presence of the Greeks, Odessa gradually evolved into the most important commercial and cultural center of Hellenism of the Black Sea. However, many others Greek colonies around Black Sea such as Sevastoupoli, Melitopoli, Marioupoli, are still keeping alive the Greek lifestyle and culture as well. The fact that Odessa was already known by the Greek Mythology, taking as example the myth for the ancient Colchis or for Odysseus’ trips and the four labors of Hercules, prove that the today “Odessa” was a very familiar place for them.
Since its founding in 1794, Odessa, attracted Greek merchants, insurance brokers and ship owners who laid the foundations of their business networks. It played the key role in the liberation of the Greek lands against Turkish, establishing here in 1814 the notorious Filiki Etaireia or the Society of Friends, a secret organization whose purpose was to overthrow the Ottoman rule of Greece and establish an independent Greek state. In the listed building that Filiki Etairia was housed you will meet Ypsilantis, Paparrigopoulos, Maraslis, Psycharis, as well as many other well-known representatives of the local thriving Greek community. Their memory is honored with statues throughout the city. Moreover, the creation of a Greek park next to the Potemkin stairs, or the Greek exhibits in the archeological museum make Hellenism absolutely present.
If you want to visit Odessa, prepare yourself for having a time travel to the past..The architectural elegance expressed with splendid neoclassical buildings as the Odessa National Opera and Ballet Theater, built during Marasslis’ presidency, the great number and the artistic quality of monuments and museums with most visited the Archaeological Museum, are the evidences of the great economic and cultural development that Odessa has experienced since the mid-19th century.
The Greek heart of the city will lead you to explore it. Accept the experience!