The Port of Odessa lies on the northwestern shores of the Black Sea in southern Ukraine about 21 kilometers north-northeast of the Port of Ilyichevsk. The Port of Odessa is a busy commercial port and the base for a fishing fleet, housing modern docks and yards for repairing ships. In addition to its commercial and fishing port, the Port of Odessa is a Ukrainian naval base. South of the harbor is a popular resort area and many fine beaches. In 2005, over a million people called the Port of Odessa home.
The Port of Odessa is Ukraine's fourth biggest city. The city is home to a variety of industries including a chemical industry that produces paints, dyes, and fertilizers. Other industries include oil refining, metalworking, and food processing. The Port of Odessa's established industrial areas are located near the waterfront, and newer plants are to the west. The Port of Odessa's popular Seventh-Kilometer Market, a huge outdoor market, is Europe's biggest.
There was an ancient Greek settlement on the site of today's Port of Odessa, and archaeological evidence bears witness to the city's Mediterranean past. Today's Odessa was founded in 1240 by Hacibey, the Turkish Tatar Khan. Throughout the Middle Ages, many different powers controlled the area. Nomadic tribes like the Turkish Petchenegs and Cumans. The Mongols stormed the lands, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania made it part of their kingdom, the Crimean Tatar Khanate actually founded today's Odessa, and the Ottoman Empire held it for centuries.
A Tatar fortress was built on the site in the 14th Century, and the Crimean Tatars used it as a trading post. When the Mongols and Ottoman Turks threatened to conquer the Port of Odessa, Khan Haci I Giray passed it to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In 1480, the Lithuanian power surrendered the mostly-uninhabited area to Turkey.
In 1529, the Port of Odessa (then known as Khadjibey) came under the Ottoman Empire as part of their Yedisan region. In the middle 1700s, the Ottomans rebuilt the fortress, calling it Yeni Dunya.
In 1789, during the Russo-Turkish War (1787-1792), Russian forces captured the fortress. The Russians gained formal control of the area in 1792 under the Treaty of Jassy. In 1794, the Port of Odessa was established as a fortress for the Imperial Russian Navy fortress and given its new, and permanent, name.
The Russian Port of Odessa was a success. From 1819 until 1859, the Port of Odessa was a free port, attracting many different nationalities to trade. In addition to Ukrainians, the population of the Port of Odessa included Russians, Poles, Greeks, Jews, Germans, French, and people from many Eastern European countries.
Russian poet Alexander Puskin, who lived there in exile in 1823-24, wrote about the Port of Odessa as a more European city where French was spoken, and European newspapers and magazines were common.
The Crimean War (1853-56) interrupted the Port of Odessa's rapid growth when the city was bombed by French and British naval vessels. However, after the war, the city soon recovered, and it became Russia's biggest grain-exporting port. The railroad linked the Port of Odessa with Kiev in 1866.
During the 19th Century, the Jewish community in the Port of Odessa grew substantially. By end of 1800s, the population was about 40% Jewish. Unfortunately, the community suffered serious persecution. At least five pogroms were carried out over the century, and many of the Port of Odessa's Jews fled the city to Palestine. In the late 19th Century, the Port of Odessa became a major base for Zionism.
The Port of Odessa was the site of an uprising by workers and the crew of Russia's Potemkin battleship. The uprising resulted in a terrible massacre of the city's citizens. After the Russian Revolution in 1917, the Port of Odessa was occupied by troops representing the Ukraine, the French Army, and Russia's Red and White Armies. In 1920, the Red Army took control of the city and made it part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. Civil war brought famine to the people of the Port of Odessa in 1921 and 1922.
During World War II, the Russian army destroyed as much of the harbor in the Port of Odessa as they could to resist German invasion. Like Kiev, the city was land mined. During the war, the Port of Odessa was ruled by the Axis Romanian administration. After the 1941 Siege of Odessa, when the Axis powers occupied the city, as many as 25 thousand residents, mostly Jews, were killed. Over 35 thousand were deported. During the first six months of occupation, many atrocities were committed.
After six months of occupation, however, the Romanian administrators' policy toward the Jews softened, and they refused to send Jews to Polish extermination camps, allowing them to work as hired labor. This resulted in more Jews surviving in the Port of Odessa than in other places in Axis-occupied Europe. The Romanian commander was sympathetic with the Ukrainian partisans as well and made an unofficial peace agreement with the partisans who hid in the Port of Odessa's catacombs. In return, the partisans did not offer much resistance to the Axis power.
In 1944, the Port of Odessa suffered serious damage and loss of life. The Red Army's siege was finally successful in April 1944, and the city was awarded the title of "Hero City" in 1945. Despite this status, many Port of Odessa residents, mostly Germans and Tatars, were imprisoned or executed due to collaboration with the Axis occupiers.
During the 1960s and 60s, the Port of Odessa began to grow very rapidly, even though most of the city's Jews emigrated to Israel or other Western countries and many upper- and middle-class Odessans moved to Moscow and Leningrad in search of greater opportunities. The city grew due to the many Ukraine rural migrants and industrial professionals who had been invited from across the Soviet Union.
Even though it was part of the USSR, the Port of Odessa maintained its distinctive cosmopolitan, and slightly Mediterranean, culture. When Russia's Communist Party failed in 1991, the Port of Odessa became part of an independent Ukraine. Today, the Port of Odessa is a big modern city and busy seaport as well as a popular tourist destination.