Jews were in the Odessa area long before Russia built the city. Odessa sits in a region once held by the Khazars, whose elite converted to Judaism in the 8th century. The Jewish influence is strong and pervades this cosmopolitan city, uniquely described in the dark tales of Isaac Babel.
Until World War II, Jews played a dominant role in the city’s development. Indeed, in 1939 they constituted over 30 % of the city’s population. Today Odessa is home to a large Jewish community. We’ll begin our tour by visiting the majestic, tree-shaded New Synagogue and the tall, grey Gothic Brodsky Synagogue, where such composers as Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov came to draw inspiration.
After that you will go to the Odessa sights that have particular meaning to Jewish history. Our tour visits the Holocaust Monument in the city park and the city’s Jewish cemetery. At the cemetery, we’ll see the memorial plaque to one of the city’s famous Yiddish writers: Shalom Aleyhem, who created Tevye, of Fiddler on the Roof fame. After stops at the music school and conservatory, we’ll visit memorial places of Jewish poets and writers who enriched Odessa’s cultural life.
Note: As there are some steps at the Old Synagogue, this tour may not be suitable for passengers with physical limitations or for those in wheelchairs.
Optional lunch at Jewish restaurant can be arranged.
This tour can be combined with other sightseeing in Odessa (see below) . Build your own itinerary for one or more days
Discover Odessa's architectural treasures on your introductory motor coach excursion.
Visit Five-domed Uspensky Cathedral (built between 1855-1869, it features magnificent Russian and Byzantine-style facade).
View the main railway station with its outstanding statues.
Visit Shevchenko Park, named for the famed Ukrainian poet and patriot. Visit the eternal flame of the Unknown Sailor. Also here you will have photo opportunities of the Black Sea.
Visit the Fine Arts Gallery (formally Count Pototsky's Palace, now housing Ukrainian and Russian paintings dating back to the 15th century).
View the Opera House (1887) resembling the Vienna Opera House
Walk to the impressive Potemkin Staircase (1841) - entrance to Odessa from the harbor.
Visit archaeological museum. Sarcophagi, mummies and other Egyptian antiquities are exhibited together with an impressive collection of excavations and finds of archaeologists on the Northern part of the Black Sea coast.
A typical Ukrainian lunch will be served at a leading restaurant as you listen to light classical music performed by members of Odessa Opera House and Philharmonic Society.
2 hour walk of highlights
Enjoy Odessa's architectural highlights on this walking tour through Old Town. Walking tour along the old part of the city includes:
Exterior of Vorontsov Palace - former residence of Count Vorontsov, the Governor-General of the region in the 1st half of the XIXth century - one of the first buildings, which was built in the style of Russian classicism in 1826. Gogol Street, named in honor of well-known Russian writer of the XIXth century, the author of the comedy "The Inspector". Gogol was living in Odessa for some time on this street. Gogol street is also one of the oldest streets in the city. It is very interesting with its variety of architecture . Deribasovskaya Street, named in honor of one of the founders of the city, Spanish General De Ribas. It is one of the main trading streets of the city, having many small cafes and shops. Among them is a beautiful building, "The Passage", built in the style of eclecticism at the end of the XIXth century. There is one of the first city parks, decorated with the sculptures of two huge lions and a beautiful fountain. This city park is where artists usually exhibit their paintings. See Soboneev Bridge and other sights
Palaces and Museums of Odessa and Classical Music concert, approx 3 hours tour
Odessa is a Mecca of architecture and art, a combination of which makes the city unforgettable. This half-day program will provide you with an opportunity to witness the real art and music of "The Pearl of the Black Sea". Tour includes: Odessa Archaeological Museum, Fine Art Gallery, Museum of Western & Orient Art and a chamber music classical concert. Founded in 1825, the Archaeological Museum is one of the oldest museums in Ukraine.
Possessing a unique collection of excavations and findings of archaeologists from the northern coast of the Black Sea, it is devoted to the history of life and the culture of tribes which lived in this region. The museum houses Greek, Scythianth, Sarmaths, and Eastern Slavic pieces dating back to 7 B. C. through 3 A. D. The Egyptian cabinet is where sarcophagi, mummies and other Egyptian discoveries are exhibited. Your Excursion continues with a short drive to the Picture Gallery in the former palace of the Count Pototsky. Displaying Russian and Ukrainian art from the last half of the 19th century, the museum is rich with pieces from such regional artists as Repin, Aivazovsky and Serov, among others. Opened in 1920, the Museum of the Western and Orient Art is situated in the former summer palace of a successful Bessarabian merchant. The building was constructed after the design of the famous architect Otton in 1856. Works of art, proudly on display, range from the Renaissance period through the end of the 20th century. The museum has a rich collection of pictorial art and handicrafts of the ancient Orient as well as impressive collections of Italian and Dutch artists.
Leaving the museum, your excursion continues to one of the palaces where you will enjoy the hypnotic tunes of a classical performance, before returning to the ship.