You can read my friend Katia’s impression of Odessa here.
Odesa is one of the annoying words, like Kyiv, that forces you to announce your Russian vs. Ukainian allegiance, even if you’re writing in English.
The Ukrainian-English spellings are Odesa and Kyiv. The Russian-English spellings are Odessa and Kiev.
Did you know that Odessa was founded as a free city with no taxes and very little government for the first fifty years of its existence?
As I understand it, the tsar wanted a buffer between the Turks and . . . . I guess . . . Ukrainians, whom he considered “Little Russians.” Don’t get me started on that. So he built a harbor and invited people from all over Europe to settle Odesa, especially Greeks, as many Greeks hated Turks.
Odesa was a tax-free boom town settled by voluntary immigrants, much like many cities in the American West. When Mark Twain visited, he said it reminded him of an American city. I agree. It’s a very unique place.
The tsar didn’t begin taxing Odessa until the Crimean War, which called his attention to this more remote part of his empire.
Here are a whole bunch of pictures, mostly with captions: