This is an exciting time to be in Odessa as the city is destined to return to it’s former prominence both commercially and culturally with it’s rich history, friendly residents of mixed heritage, relatively nice beaches, bustling port and overall potential to regain it’s former splendor soon.
The Opera Theater is certainly not to be missed as you can visit and experience one of the most architecturally significant opera houses in the entire world that provides proof of the turn of the century grandeur, elegance and affluence that was prevalent here one hundred years ago
The Potyomkinskaya Staircase
It is another visit-card of Odessa, A curious incident also seems to be indispensable here. All cards in the social consciousness were mixed by a cult, as we say, film of Sergey Eisenstein «Battleship Potyomkin». The heart-rending scene of shooting at the peaceful citizens on the moss-covered sandstone stairs, a falling pram and some other similar horrors have for a long time linked the Boulvarnaya staircase, or ” The Giant staircase ” , with the rebellious battleship – «the unconquerable territory of the revolution».
In fact there couldn’t be any shooting on the staircase, because all the slopes to the port were blockaded by the municipal troops. The massacre in the port, the overpass fire and other disgraceful goings-on were arranged by the thugs, who didn’t use the stairs, but made their way there along the Primorskaya street, mainly from the side of Peresyp.
The building of the Boulvarnaya staircase began in 1837, and continued, more or less successfully; almost ten years. It was a typical long lasting project, abounded in amazing stories to any taste. Collapses, landslides, destructive effect of the underground waters, lack of conscientiousness of contractors and mine – surveyors, inexperience and levity of designers, work superintendents and accountants – are only some of the annoyances, presented by this grandiose undertaking.
Such outstanding engineers, hydraulic engineers and architects, as Boffo. Upton, Fan-der-Flis, Morosov, Torichelli, Kozlov and Ballaqua. took part in the project. The final variant of the staircase with its breast walls appeared, by mutual efforts, only in 1847, though we see the other date (1842) on the memorial plaque.
One should mention, that the Boulvarnaya staircase was famous outside Odessa even before the Eisenstein’s film epic.
Jules Vern. who had never visited Odessa, knew about the staircase and had mentioned it in his works. Mark Twain. Jakov Polonsky, Pavel Vyazemsky and other outstanding characters of native and world history described it, too. «The Giant staircase” is, probably, one of the most attractive places in the whole historic center, because of the well-known fact that the view from above shows only stair-wells, while, looking from below, one can see only stairs. All 192. So. this project was a real success of its author, Franz Karlovich Boffo.
The Vorontsovsky Palace
The right boulevard alley leads from the Duke to the former residence of the governor-general of the Novorosiysky district and the Bessarabia region, Count M.S. Vorontsov.
Only some people know, that before Vorontsov occupied [hat post, he was already a house owner, having purchased a two-storied mansion on a steep coast, above the so-called Military Gorge. The house was not had, but it didn’t suit to the new rank of its owner, That is why, during several years Vorontsov rented a big building at the corner of Torgovaya and Hersonskaya streets, while a luxurious palace with various services and a colonnade had been raised on the place of the mentioned mansion.
Famous architect F.K. Boffo projected the palace and the adjoining constructions in 1824-1829. By the way. the whole Primorsky Boulevard was planned and formed at the same time. It should be mentioned, that the present-day palace is in fact only the front part of the whole construction. The less valuable part of the complex (mainly apartments and outbuildings – so called «Orlovsky outhouse»), stretching from the front part in the direction of the Testchin (Mother’s-in-law) Bridge, was not preserved. It is a curious fact, but the compact, so to say, lapidary form of the Vorontsovsky Palace benefits by this loss.
It is a typical country estate. Situated in the center of the town, it was nevertheless, completely isolated. A great part of I> territory being encircled by a seaside precipice, the palace was detached from [he boulevard by a shady garden and a massive, but at the same time refined forged lattice. According to the authorized conclusion of architect V.I. Timofejenko, the western and southern facades of the palace look solid from a short distance, whereas the northern and eastern facades seem to be monumental. The interior of the building, though magnificent, is gentle and poetic, devoid of cheap pomposity and demonstrative luxury. Meanwhile, the interior decoration is rich of marble columns. fire-places, painted ceilings, patterned parquet, incrustations, refined crystal chandeliers and others, The Vorontsovsky palace was admired and described by poet V.A, Zukovsky. by famous novelist U.I. Krashevsky and by many other well-known people.
Obviously, in order to realize the socialist formula «The best – to children, this palace construction – a typical museum, was transformed into the Pioneer Palace, the pioneers feeling there not so comfortable in contrast to Vorontsov’s family. Besides, it was not easy for the pioneers to preserve the large architectural monument in good condition. One more curious thing in Odessa manner…
The Monument to Duke De Richelieu
The best and the most beloved by citizens monument. Poet Jury Mihailik had given the following description of it: a monument to the «domestic duke of Odessa citizens». It is the epicenter of folk’s festivities, The bronze Duke, The palliative of the Cooper Rider in St. Petersburg, of the Pushkin monument on the Pushkin Square in Moscow, of the Mermaid in Yalta and the monument to Joyce in Dublin.
It was Lanjeron, who started the collection of takings for the monument, immediately after his getting the sorrowful news about the death of the Odessa favorite. A year later, Vorontsov turned to one of the mast outstanding sculptors, academician Ivan Petrovich Martos, with a private request to accept the order for the erection of the monument, The perfect master had brilliantly managed the honorable mission, entrusted to him.
According to the evidence of historian A.I. Tretjak, Martos calculated the value of the order on the basis of the estimate, made during the building of the monument to Minin and Pozarsky on the Red Square. The cost constituted 40 thousand roubles, St. Petersburg master Effimov had made the statue of Richelieu, as well as the three bas-relief, symbolic trade, agriculture and justice.
Under the circumstances, the unveiling of the monument followed on the 22nd of April 1828, accompanied by a solemn liturgy in the Spaso-Preobrazensky Cathedral, by the inarch of the military formation, whose chief was Richelieu and by a performance of pupils and teachers of Richeljevsky Lyceum.
Lying in the harbor ships of all countries fired gun salvos. From that time the place at the “Duke” became a pilgrimage point of citizens and tourists.
From old times there stood a little gun near the monuments. Traditionally the gun was fired every day at ? o’clock. Once it was stolen. Recompense was promised. .After that, a prisoner of the Odessa prison hall suggested his help to police. «1 know – persuaded he. – the person, who had sure seen the thieves and the whole theft*. By his request, he was conveyed to the place. ‘So, – began the chief of the town police impatiently, – show us the witness». «Here is he,» – answered the prisoner, pointing at the bronze Duke. The most amusing thing in the whole story was, that the chief appreciated the joke and the prisoner had got the promised reward!
It represents the town on the way to the port. The present lighthouse “tube” was reconstructed in the postwar period, the old Vorontsovsky lighthouse being exploded in the time of the heroic defense of Odessa in 1941, because he served as a target for the enemy artillery.
As far back as in Hadjibei there existed a “seamen’s lantern”, represented by a stone tower with a metallic brazier on the top, in which the fire was kept up from time to time. As a matter of fact, Odessa lighthouse was situated some way off from the port, on the Big Fountain cape. It started its work in 1827. This event was preceded by a typical for Odessa, tragicomic story. Some landowner, as for back as in Richelieu’s time, had made a picnic on the sea- coast. The skipper of a passing by trade ship took the fire for a lighthouse and directed his sailing boat to the coast. As a result, the boat ran aground and somebody of the staff had sunk in the sea. The repenting landowner, in order to expiate his sin, presented belonging to him coastal part of the land to a monastery, on a condition, that a lighthouse would be built there.
As for the port, initially the lighthouse was situated at the end of the Karantinny pier. That polyhedral stone tower, called the Richeljevsky lighthouse, was destroyed, after the Reidovy pier was built. The Vorontsovsky lighthouse, built at the end of the Reidovy pier in 1888, he unconquerable territory of the revolution”.
The monument to Pushkin
It is situated symmetrically to Duke, but in the left side of the Primorsky Boulevard. “Pushkin in Odessa” is the subject of hundreds of scientific publications, screenplays, conferences, dissertations and even speculations. The Odessa citizens revere the great poet and even consider him to be their fellow-townsman. There Marazli. Due to his initiative the government of the Slavonic charity sock is a line in one Odessa popular song: “And Sasha Pushkin is famous only because here he recollected the wonderful moment”. The conflict “Pushkin-Vorontsov” being explained earlier let us touch upon the history of the monument creation.
It was the idea of Grigory Grigorevich cry solicited for a permission 10 begin the collection of takings for the “arrangement of a fountain with the bust of Pushkin”. The process of collection proceeded well enough, naturally except of several curious stories. So, some Odessa “Croesus” turned to be too much stingy, though donations were represented in 5-, 10-and even 25-rouble bounds, whereas the famous Dreifus Company, which directors had another citizenship, laid out 50 roubles. Another curious moment is the meeting of the project managers with the old Count A.G. Stroganov, an uncommonly civilized, hut extremely extravagant person. Having learned the purpose of the visit, he began to cry at the guests. “What is it, then – a monument to Pushkin, – said he with perplexity, recollecting, evidently, only the old “seditious stories”, – one should turn to a police!”
With the year “1888″ engraved on the monument, the ceremony of opening took place, as it often hap pens in our part of the world, later. on the 16th of April 1889. The fountain monument was made in accordance with the project of the famous architect H.K. Vasiljev. Besides, the bust was made after the model of Josephine Polonskaya, the wife of the famous poet. The inscription runs: “To A.S. Pushkin. The citizens’ of Odessa commentaries were needles there, if not the fact, that the latter had not only collected the means for the monument project but also, so to say, put their hands to it. The local architects, Dmitrenko and Morandi were controlling the work without indemnity. The teacher of calligraphy, Kossodo helped them to make the draft of the inscriptions.
The Poet’s Birthday is celebrated every year. Traditionally there come Odessa men of letters and poetry lovers, bringing flowers and reading verses – theirs and those of Pushkin. In bygone days, the coins were thrown in the fountain for luck. The luck, that one had while learning Pushkin’s poems.
The memorable gun
If one goes round the Pushkin’s monument and turns to the Town council building, then left, on a simple base he will see a piece of battle ordnance, usually used by ravel gunners in the middle of XIX century. Pashka (a gun) near Pushkin – is not just an ironical invention of the citizens, contrived only for sound harmony. The gun in retro style seems to open an old, heroic page of the regional history.
In spring 1854 there appeared a united English-French fleet near Odessa. Judging from appearances, its task was not to land the troops, but to misinform the Russian command relative to the real plans of the allies. On the 10th of April the town and the port were bombarded by the enemy squadron. That was quite unexpected. The most part of the coastal batteries were placed so unskillfully. that they couldn’t at all take part in the attack repulse. In fact, only one small battery under ensign Stcheglov’s command was engaged in the battle. Though equipped with four guns of the Crimean war period, Stcheglov’s gunner displayed incredible bravery, tenacity, perfect training: several hours long they were keeping on artillery duel with several modern ships, completed with the newest ordnance. As it often happens in the native history, somebody had to pay for the slovenliness of the others. In any case Odessa (formally) had met the enemy provocation with dignity. In the course of the further cruising of the inter-allied fleet near Odessa, the latter had lost the “Tiger”, a frigate, which was a privileged cadet school for the boys from the most aristocratic families of Great Britain, Being befogged, the ship ran aground near the Fountain coast. The Cossacks’ mounted patrol having nuisance”, the fate of the English “golden youth” was decided. Having understood that the frigate was not to save, the allies had bombarded it and the “Tiger” went down. The captive cadets had got so much accustomed to Odessa, where they were welcomed in best salons they left England reluctance. What about the “Tiger”, some of its rests were pulled apart as souvenirs and scrap metal. Exactly half a century later, in 1904, one of the frigate guns was raised from the ground and placed in the boulevard to the dread of the enemies (It was the time of Russian – Japan war).
Some years ago a scabrous parable about this military monument was popular in Odessa. It was told to be a peculiar innocence test. So. if a potential bridegroom was eager to know whether his potential bride was a virgin, he had to bring her to the gun. And if the gun fires a shot, the innocence is guaranteed…
Different ways are leading from the Primorsky boulevard to the center: one can go there along the Ekaterininskaya street; across the Testchin Bridge passing the Shachsky palace and along the Gogol street; passing the English Club (at present – the Naval museum) up to the Opera Theater; or one can turn in the Pushkinskaya street with the Pushkin’s museum, the “Bristol” hotel and the Philharmonic Society, and then go further -everywhere. But wherever you go you will sooner or later see one more Odessa legend, the famous Privoz.
“Privoz”. It sounds so… Once at the beginning of the history of Odessa, the Privoz was a spacious, as well as deserted square, which was called Privoznaya. There were no shops, no booths and no stone barns there. The wares were sold “from wheels”, mainly from carts. Zealous housewives preferred often to buy there. It was cheaper and the goods were fresh er. The Privoz adjoined the Stary (Old) bazaar or Volny (Free) market, the first establishment of the kind in Odessa. The specialized trade was developing and the population grew, acquiring new trade squares and buildings, So, gradually, the Privoz was built on. At first by wooden houses, then partially by stone buildings. Finally it was totally occupied by massive constructions. The row of the architectural monuments of the town includes also a unique complex of the, so-called, Fruit passage, which was built in the well-known 1913 after the project of architect F.P. Nesturh. The passage was good preserved up to our days, though they trade there not more in fruits but in mass consumption good, which are also rather useful.
One 1st April joke of 60 years’ prescription is connected with the Fruit passage. At that time there took place the re dislocation of an “animals’ detachment” in Odessa. They were moved from the Odessa Zoo to Simferopol. Four – year old elephant Murza escaped in the direction of the Privoz. As it was reported, “Murza rushed suddenly to the Fruit passage… He ate several apples with appetite, pulled out pickled cucumbers from a barrel, tasted some fresh cabbage – heads and regaled itself with dried fruits”. But at that moment the elephant was caught and delivered to the Odessa – Tovarnaya station, where his Zoo fellows were awaited him. They say, that this story served as a plot for the popular comedy film “The Striped Trip”.
Some place-names in Odessa are original enough to make a part of a quiz, though without any hope of a correct answer. Bugaevka. Vorontsovka, Golopuzovka, Deribasovka, Kanava (Ditch), Kosarka, Kursaki. Novaya Shweyzaria (New Switzerland), Sahalinchik (Little Sakhalin) arc sunk into oblivion… And only Moldovanka remained the pyramid that had conquered the time, the latter having naturally destroyed some of its realities. But t hat is not so important, if one has something to recollect.
The rich and the poor, the well-to-do and the paupers, the lucky and failures, sinners and piousness, the happy and the unfortunate, those, who kept to the letter of the law and such as were not too much law-obedient lived there. The statement that Grigory ‘Tsadruk was just a “criminal- in-law” is not complete enough. He was a “king”.
And so he was accepted by his friends, his victims and by the officials of the Criminal Investigation Departments of all southern Russia towns, as it was not just a nickname but also his peculiar “profession”. To look like a “king” was his matter even during his own wedding. There were invited the respected colleagues to the party, the reliable partners, the specialists of the” closely related professions”, the noble-looking tippers- off, the trustworthy fences, the aged “memors” and the gifted “learners” – in other words, the whole criminal establishment of Odessa, Herson and Nikolaev, where Grisha (Grigory) had had his “rehabilitation time” after the lately occasional imprisonment. Such a quantity of guests could by no means find room in the bride’s old house at the corner of Kosvennaya and Rasumovskaya streets. So, the “crowned” bridegroom ordered to set the festal tables in the narrow but long yard, surrounded by squeaky wooden galleries and paved with, finedikar (wild) stone. It is not necessary to mention that the tables were crammed with aromatic, trickling fat, sweet and abundant boiled, fried. stewed, backed, stuffed, salty and marinated dishes, typical of Odessa summer. The large bottles of “Heinrich Rederer”, a Champaign company in I’rantsuzsky Boulevard: the famous Shustov rowanberry vodka, the noble Dutch liqueur “Curacao” of the trade house ” Herbert von Schwarzzahl & Co”; the expensive sorts of wine from luxurious grocery Ginanda in Grecheskaya street towered like longed-for lighthouses above the plates, as well as various other sorts of vodka and beer. To “refresh oneself with the enumerated alcoholic beverages was considered to be a good form, even after the most “delicate” drinking-bout. To cut it short, the ceremony was proceeding in a way described by Alexander Sergejevich Pushkin in the “Odessa chapter of “Eugeny Onegin”" – “hubbub, arguments, light wine”, but in the traditional Moldovanka interpretation. The tireless musicians [humped out the gala marches, which were heard almost at the Starokonny Bazaar. In the course of the celebration the guests, inspired by the music and strong drinks, began to recollect the old debts, to express the former grudges, to clear up the long-lasting relations, with the chairs and thrown with the trembling hands bottles heavily somersaulting over the tables…But nobody seemed to be interested or bothered. According to the unwritten laws of the Odessa “court”, [he neighbors, as an equal, took part in the feast. In order to secure his eminent guests, the bridegroom had providently taken the preventive measures against the police.
Along the whole Kosvenaya street up to the Mihailovsky police-station in Mihailovskaya street there were post ed the sentries, or the “zinkovyje”, who stayed “on zink”, in other words “on shuher” or “on alas” – the slang words meaning an important task. Everybody of them had got beforehand a glass of vodka and 20 kopejkas (Russian money) to make possible for them the afterwards celebration. Besides, they were strictly ordered to raise an immediate alarm, if the policemen “begin to stir”. For all that the “king” miscalculated. He hadn’t taken into consideration that not all of his “servants” were trustworthy. Somebody had informed the police in advance and the latter appeared from the side, where they were not awaited by the “zinkovyje”. The unexpected bustle made it possible for the agents to catch several famous criminals, long time wanted by the Criminal Investigation Department, but the rest, having come to their senses and wishing to avoid any risk, escaped. So. when police officer Jablonsky, who commanded the round up, approached the wedding table, he saw there only the bridegroom with the bride. “Ivan Karlovich, as you evidently know, I’m a thief, but I have already served my time. Now I’m not on trial and have nobody and nothing to fear, – said Grisha friendly – or can you accuse me of such a pleasant deed as inviting the closest friends to the legitimate wedding?” With those words the “king” filled his glass with vodka, nodded to his bride, drained the glass and stared at the officer with expectance. The policeman had nothing to do but to turn in silence and go out without looking at anybody, There had already gathered a crowd of gapers in the street, and somebody had managed to bet a quart of the Bessarabskoye red wine, that the “pharaohs” had vainly set up a clamour all around Moldovanka, and they would get nothing, because they could be hardly compared with the “king”.
If something like that happened somewhere in Balta, Zmerinka or even in Herson, it would enter the annals. But in Odessa the peripeteias of the wedding were in details discussed by the “kings” fellow-citizens in the coaching inn of madam Bulgakova, in the Vernik’s wine vault, in the Balashev’s tea tavern and in the Korenblit’s bath-house in Rasumovskaya street, the whole event being soon forgotten. Indeed, why should one concentrate on one and the same thing, with the different new stories, one more incredible than another, happening almost every day in Moldovanka. This part of Odessa burst with gaiety and sorrow, boiled up with passion, being pacified by the recollections. All that turned into folklore, proving the plain idea, that remoteness means not always the back of beyond and provinciality but is a relative notion, Not without reason, there was an anecdote popular in Odessa. The two fellows arc meeting in the street: “Where have you got such a chic coat? – In Paris. – Where is it? – Some pair thousand miles from Odessa. – Just think. ,such a god-forsaken place, and they make it so good there!”
Odessa appeared in the wild Black Sea side steppes at the hack of the country, but then, in a regal manner occupied the third place among the cities of the large empire, having to some extend got ahead of the capitals. In such a way there appeared Moldovanka in the suburb of rich and merry Odessa, having found its own original face, if not mentality, and possessing the sightseeing of the city status. The Petropavlovskaya Church was one of the most magnificent in the city, the Balkovskaya synagogue – the most ancient, the St. Klementh Polish Roman-Catholic Church – the largest, the, so called. Big Station in Tovarnaya street – the first and the Institute for Noble Maidens (privileged boarding-school for the daughters of the aristocracy) – the unique. There were also the picturesque Tolkuchy Market, in other words odds and ends market or just abbreviated “culcha”; the Trusteeship of the National Sobriety garden, where… they drank in freedom, earnestly and with competence. If a cabman in any part of the town heard “to Joska”, said in an undertone, he used to deliver the passenger without a question to the house in Zaporozskaya street, marked by a red lantern. Sometimes a father met there a son, a director – his shop assistant and a professor – his students…The house across the street was kept by a colleague Maria Ivanovna, the concurrence finding no place between the two establishments, as each of them had its clientele. But the clients differed. Once some merchant started a trial against Maria Ivanovna on the ground that his son had caught a “bad disease” from Matara (Elisaveta Izmailova), Verochka, Hai Kvas or some other girl. The Madam appeared punctiliously before the court and, wrapping herself in a sumptuous boa, uttered in a tone of an insulted innocence the phrase that later on spread all over Odessa: “Let the son of this Mister not to trail after the bitches”. She was hinting at the fact that such a shameful event couldn’t happen in her house.
Different popular products were produced in Moldovanka: the “A.K. Dubinin’s Society ” sausage, made so professionally that it is still recollected with pleasure by the old people; the beer from the “Jenny&Kempe” factories: the Shustov cognac and Langada’s freshening kvas which was cooled of not by dry carbon dioxide, but with the help of the natural ice, prepared by the masters of the Klurov’s dynasty.
Bakers and housewives preferred the flour from the Inber’s mill, which was equally good for Ukrainian dumplings. Russian pelmeni. Jewish shortcakes and Odessa bagels. The “gobies in tomato sauce”, produced by the Fate-Fein cannery were considered to be a “gastronomic sightseeing” of Odessa. Gourmands enjoyed the incomparable taste of Piccinelli’s macaroni, and those who liked sweets regaled themselves with Ristich’s halva. Sprightly bootblacks could in a second bring the most bedraggled shoes to the unbearable gloss, using the “General Society of French Blacking” shoe-polish. The “Ed. Arps&Co” corks accompanied the holi days with Champaign and troubles with medicines. The “Vienna Fireproof Safes Factory” production was sold like hot cakes. The tin-plates, produced by the Valtuh’s plant possessed the same popularity for one good reason that in that time there didn’t exist synthetic materials. So, a large number of the useful things were made from tin: cans for kerosene, called “bljatsanki”, milk- churns, rumbling in the hands of rosy-checked dairy-maids, who cried in the morning: “Milk! Who wants milk?!” In the yard’s, squares and streets there were heard the plain melodies of the barrel organs, which were made at the Johann Nechad’s “Organs and Orchestrions Factory”. The officials, clerks, pupils, students and poet Alexander Mitrophanovich Fyodorov wrote their works with the Tarakovsky’s ink. Side by side with the big enterprises one could see there hundreds of small handicraft workshops of every possible specialization: cooperages, linen workshops, waterworks and wheelwright shops, dye-houses, quilts and mattress shops, shoemakers, metalworkers and saddlers workshops… Several corset workshops, serving all women of fashion in Moldovanka, stood out against a background of those “commonplace establishments”. And completely exotic for Odessa was the workshop, where the plain shells were transformed into beautiful ashtrays and souvenirs, reproducing the sounds of the remote seas.
Every oil-stove workshop had its faithful clients. There the housewives could have their primus-stoves repaired, talking with the master “about life”. Besides, everything could be done on credit, because the master was usually acquainted not only with the client, but also knew his or her grandmother, a respectable madam Gorpischenko, Fuks or Jareskul, who visited the same work shop with the same purpose: “Boretchka, could you repair it, as without my primus-stove I’m like a herring without oil and vinegar”.
Naturally, the most interesting in Moldovanka were the people. If there existed a medal “To the honorable Moldovanka citizen”, Duke Richelieu would be the first to get it, because it was he, who founded a farm on the place, which afterwards became the Dukovsky Garden. Moldovanka was also the birthplace of white acacia, delivered from Italy, which is now a symbol of Odessa. For young Pushkin, Odessa began also with Moldovanka, where ended the road from Kishinev, while for Eduard Bagritsky it was the last place, he saw in Odessa. He left for Moscow from Dalnitskaya Street. The name of the street appeared later in his verses. It was also the street, where Isaak Babel was born. The stories of the writer made Moldovanka world-famous. In Sadukovskaya Street there lived Alexander Pevsner, who was often visited by his friend Alexander Ivanovich Kuprin. The latter had immortalized violinist Sashka from the beer pub “Gambrinus” in his story with the same title. The youth of Kirill Levin was spent in Prohorovskaya Street. During many years he worked honestly in the sphere of literature and has also taken part in several wars. As for Vneshnaya street (today’s Mechnikowa street), there lived a “musical boy” Volodja Kemper, who became the well-known variety per former Vladimir Koralli and married matchless Claudia Shulzenko. Gospitalskaya Street is known due to the amateur brass band, organized by barber Perchikovich. There performed young Leonid Utesov. The gymnasium in Staroportofrankovskaja Street is famous of its graduates: satirical poet Stepan Oleinik and Otto Julievich Shmidt, famous for his polar adventures and the splendid beard. Moldovanka was the “small motherland” for Emil Gilels, who won the hearts of many people around the world. The childhood and the period of fame of Michael Vinnitsky arc connected with Zaporozskaya, Gospitalnaya and Bolgarskaya streets, In Moldovanka he was “crowned” under the name of Mishka Japonchik (little Japanese), the people saying that if he were a little bit more cunning, he could make a civil war hero of himself, much better than Kotovsky. Some twenty – twenty five years ago such topics were discussed precautionary in a low voice in the vast Moldovanka yards with [he stone leans-to and wooden verandahs, with the tiny front gardens and pigeon-lofts, decorated with various gratings, balconies and nets.
The yards were in reality like “communal flats”. There they made the “immortal” plum jam, bathed children, hanged the linen, scaled fish, as no self respecting housewife would do such a dirty work in her own kitchen. Stuffy summer nights made it sometimes possible to sleep under the old acacias. In the yard one could confide his troubles and successes, difficulties and hopes to the others, with weddings and funerals taking place also here… .Nobody- seemed to care for the social position, the income sources and especially nationality of the neighbors: Ukrainian or Russian, Greek, Jew. Moldavian, German or Turk – the main thing, he should be a “good fellow from our yard”. So. the most spoken language there was not Ukrainian, or Russian, or Jewish, hut our “Odessa language”, which is often to hear even in our time in Moldovanka, or at the vivid Starokonny Bazar, or in the pub near the Dukovsky Garden. The language had absorbed the grammatical structures of different languages, that in combination with the numerous slang words, local folk expressions and especially typical Odessa intonation create an extremely comic effect.
Moldovanka was also the dwelling place of the poor tailors, who were turning, patching up and ironing the old clothes, sold then to the people, who were as poor as the tailors; sickly girls sewing all day long buttons on the band-boxes, to make it more convenient to sell them in the shops: the exhausted laundresses; the consumptive bookbinders, having their mouths full of dust; the “authorities” of the criminal world and its “lower officials”, that is the petty thieves, so called “hlamidniki”; the owners of the small shops and the factory workers, dockers . drunkards, living on casual earnings and legendary gangsters (“bindjuzniki”).
“Bindjuzniki” were the strong, confident men. It takes time to describe them, because they presented a completely unique society, with its own etiquette, altitude to the life, moral and laws. For example, they didn’t use to express their feelings openly, verbosity, on their opinion, being good only for women, barbers and barrow boys. One shouldn’t poke his nose in the business of the others, or show interest in the people’s earnings, or quarrel with wives.
It was forbidden to speak in the foul language in front of the meal or especially the drinks. It was disgraceful to get drunk up to the unconscious state, as well as to drink with the “Funeral Fraternity” lay brothers, who “ate from the table of people’s sorrow”. The horses should be always.
The Shah Palace
Perhaps, one of the brightest streets in the historical part of Odessa is the Gogol street. building here is an example of the architectural fantasy. But the building situated at the very beginning of the street, 2 Gogol Str., deserves the greatest attention.
Raised above the steep cliff, it is success- fully fully designed as a mediaeval British palace: impregnable-looking towers, lancet arcs. Odessa residents call it the Shah Palace. Its history is the following:
In 1794 they began to build a military hospital there under the guidance of J.P. Devolanov. Though being half raised, it was taken apart in 1800. But the good building site exited the minds of Odessa architects.
In the second half of the 19th century the talented architect J.V. Gonsiorovski built a palace for a Polish magnate Brrhozovski in this place. 5O year later,already in the 20th century, the building was passed into the city possession. The name “the Shah Palace” and the Eastern colouring inherent in this name was gained by the palace in 1909. At that time in Persia the revolution took place and as a result the Iranian Shah Mohammed Al i was dethroned. He escaped to Odessa. The beautiful palace on the steep slope was (let to the disgraced Shah. Since that time it has been called the Shah Palace.
Now the building is let on a long-term lease to one of the leading financial the firm “Maritime Transport Bank” by the Odessa Regional Council provided the firm carries out repair and renewal operations.
Nowadays it is one of the most beautiful buildings in Odessa, impressed with its refined design of premises.
It let on a long term leas by the Odessa Regional Council to one of the conducting financial establishments of Ukraine – Marine Transport Bank, provided them carries out repair and renewal operations.