Odessa, Ukraine

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The Pearl of the Black Sea, Odesa is one of Ukraine’s most fascinating and colorful cities, luring visitors with its Baroque architecture, Mediterranean climate and dramatic history. This sprawling enclave of just over a million people celebrated its 200th anniversary in 1994, commemorating the date when Catherine the Great established Odesa and began to build one of Europe’s great ports. Today, the city offers an eclectic mix: a buzzing street life, outstanding museums, Soviet murals and opulent shops housed in 19th-century and Art Nouveau buildings. The main thoroughfare, Deribasivska Street, is home to the Odesa Passage, an elaborate shopping arcade that dates back to the late 19th century, while Primorsky Boulevard teems with vendors hawking all sorts of wares and locals promenading in smart attire. Primorsky is also where visitors will find the famous Potemkin Steps, a cascade of 192 stairs that most people know from Sergei Eisenstein's 1925 film Battleship Potemkin. A statue of Aleksandr Pushkin in the neighborhood memorializes the famous writer's 13 months in exile in Odesa, after he was expelled from Russia in 1823. Fans of Pushkin’s works flock here to pay homage to the author of the classic Russian novel Eugene Onegin, much of which was written in Odesa.

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