Whatever visitors’ accommodations in Kiev might be, whether in Kiev hotels or, more economically, Kiev apartments, they will be in a great location from which to explore all of Ukraine. In the summer, the city of Odessa on the Black Sea is a hot spot for vacationers from all over Europe. This is a bustling city of over a million people who are outspokenly proud of their community. Odessans have plenty of good reasons for boosting their town. It is a historical and cultural center, it is close to some of the best beaches on the Black Sea, and the local cuisine is world famous.
Founded by the Russian Queen Catherine the Great in 1794, Odessa lies on the west coast of the Black Sea between Moldova and the Crimea. It took its name from the ancient Greek town of Odessos. The city is accessible by air, bus, and rail, so you can easily travel to Kiev again after seeing the city, or go to any other Ukrainian destination. Odessa also has ferry links to other Black Sea ports.
A good place to begin your tour of the historic sights of Odessa is the catacombs. These limestone tunnels were created by quarrying in the time of Catherine the Great, and cover a seventy kilometer radius around the city. During World War II, they provided hiding places for Ukrainian partisans who were fighting the Nazi invaders. Visitors can tour a small part of the underground labyrinth, and see a subterranean museum and a reconstructed partisan camp. Another memorial to Odessa’s WWII story is the 411th Battalion Monument. Here, kids can climb over tanks and other military equipment. One of Odessa’s most treasured historic symbols is the Potyomkinskaya Lestnitsa (Potemkim Steps), which was built between 1837 and 1841. The steps were immortalized in the classic 1925 film about the 1905 Russian Revolution, The Battleship Potemkin. The best view of the steps is from the bottom.
In the Wax Museum, you can see figures of some of Odessa’s most prominent inhabitants, including Catherine the Great and the legendary Russian poet Alexander Pushkin. There is also a wonderful exhibit of miniatures of Odessa’s most famous buildings. The Art Museum has a diverse collection of 19th century works by such renowned artists as Kandinskiy, Ayvazovskiy, and Levitskiy. This museum was once a palace, and one room displays golden religious icons. Below the museum is a hidden grotto where, according to legend, illicit affairs were consummated.
The Literature Museum reflects Odessa’s great literary heritage. It focuses on the works of Pushkin and Nicolai Gogol. The Archaeological Museum has the world’s largest collection of artifacts from the northern Black Sea region. It also has Ukraine’s only Egyptian collection. By the time you return to your accommodations in Kiev after your visit to Odessa, you and your friends will have some great experiences to talk about. Relax for a while in your Kiev hotel or apartment, and then get ready for your next Ukrainian adventure.