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Odessa’s Cultural Heritage: Wassily Kandinsky in the Fine Arts Museum

Wassily Kandinsky, one of the founders of abstract art, moved to Odessa with his parents in 1871, at the age of five. Since then for forty years his life in many different ways was connected with the city at the Black Sea.
Kandinsky

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Top 5 Things to Do in Odessa (Ukraine) in Winter

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Stay warm and keep on exploring. That’s what all of us at Odessa Walks say during winter season. After all, if you happen to be travelling to Odessa in winter, why should cold, snow or rain keep you from sightseeing?

True, Odessa does not look its best offseason, as green leaves of chestnuts, plain trees and acacias, together with lots of beautifully decorating the city center flowers add tons of vibrance to the look and feel of the city. It’s also true that sea wind, grey skies, cold temperatures (add to this snow, which can cover Odessa for a couple of days in December, January and February) don’t make sightseeing enjoyable. Nevertheless, if you are in Odessa in winter, what are the top things to do to best explore the destination?

Here are top 5 choices from the Odessa Walks team (drawn on our own and customers’ experience):

Food Tasting Tour. Lots of delicious local food, cosy restaurants, must-see sights. Although it’s a 3-hour tour, it’s a perfect way to see Odessa’s historic area with most of the main sights in a chilly weather. With the three food tastings done seated in authentic local cafes every 45 minutes of the tour, you stay warm, immerse into local culture and lifestyle, and savor absolutely delicious local food: appetizers, a hot dish and dessert. And during the strolls between the food stops you have an excellent chance to see the landmarks, less touristy areas and learn local history. What can be better?

National Opera and Ballet Theater Visit and Tour. Do visit the Odessa Opera and Ballet theater even if you are not big on theater. It’s one of the most beautiful theaters in the world together with Grand Opera in Paris, La Scala in Milano and Vienna State Opera. And if this has not convinced you yet, it’s the cheapest opera hall in both the New and Old World with a cheapest ticket’s price of $1 and the most expensive one – $5.5.

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Odessa Sparkling Wine Factory tour with tasting. Odessa has had an image of the fun party place by the coast since its foundation. And what party place without the bubbles? Hundred years after the city’s foundation a Frenchmen, Henry Roederer opened in Odessa the Sparkling Wine factory. Soon, it deserved the right to be called champagne at the Champagne Exhibition in Paris. Unfortunately, history took a dramatic turn and champagne became a “bourgeois” drink. What happened next? The Soviet style of making the bubbles. The historic building of the factory and the residence of the legendary marshal Zhykov. This is a very interesting tour, which lets you explore Odessa beyond its historic quarter, visit production facilities and taste a variety of bubbles. Aah, the last argument in favor of the tour? How about learning the process of making kosher sparkling wine and what’s more to it, trying one? Guess what,  hundred years ago Odessa was the third largest Jewish city in the world and we stick to our roots:))

Catacombs Tour. The story has it that if put in one line, the tunnels would cover a distance of 2,500 km (about 1,500 miles). This makes Odessa’s catacombs the longest in Europe. Snow or rain, inside temperature of about +14C (54F) makes this tour a particularly great sightseeing option in the wintery Odessa.

Archeology/Fine Arts Museum. At the times of the Russian Empire, Odessa’s Archeology and Fine Arts museums were the largest museums outside Moscow and St Petersburg. Archeology museum boasts collection of antique items from the Bronze Age to the period of ancient Greek colonies to the Kievan Rus  found along the shores of the Black Sea. A true jewel of the museum is the collection of gold, which represents Scythian and Hunnic golden ornaments; golden and silver coins of the ancient Greek colonies; one of the eleven ever found golden coins of Prince Vladimir from Kievan Rus; collection of coins of the Russian Empire.

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Fine Arts Museum features an enchanting exhibit of Ukrainian icons of different periods, works of the Russian Empire’s first portrait painters, realist artists, symbolists and abstractionists, including Wassily Kandinsky.

One thing to take into consideration before heading to the Fine Arts and Archeology museums: most of the signs are in Cyrillic, so it’s really worth seeing the museums with a guide.

So, don’t get too frustrated if you come to Odessa and the weather is not what you’ve expected. There are still quiet a few things to do to enjoy your time in this fascinating city.

Need help arranging any of these tours? Email us at info@odessawalks.com We’ll be excited to help you!

Safe Travels!

Olga