Lion sculptures at the entrances to the historic mansions, lion heads decorating grandeur facades and beautiful gates of the houses in the historic quarter and along French boulevard, images of lions in the family symbols. After a brief walk along Odessa’s city center, it becomes obvious that lions were a highly popular ornament in the XlX century. What’s the reason to this?
Odessa’s historic quarter boasts many grandeur buildings erected mostly during the second half of the nineteenth – early twentieth centuries when the city reached the peak of its prosperity.
The Italian story of Odessa goes back a long way, centuries before the city’s foundation. In the late Middle Ages and Renaissance, the Black Sea region was so familiar to the Italians that adventurers like Marco Polo in the late thirteenth century could write: “We have not spoken to you of the Black Sea or the provinces that lie around it, for there are so many who explore these waters and sail upon them every day… that everybody knows what is to be found there. Therefore I say nothing on this topic”.
A little bit of Italy in Odessa
While, in fact, it was! One of the city’s historian wrote in his book: “it was an unattractive, rocky area, with the steep cliff, which led to the sea, without any trees (if not to take into account the three pear trees, planted by the Turks in the Hachibey fort), surrounded by desert on one side and by prairies with wolves on the other side. That’s the spot, where Odessa was beeing built from clay and limestone, unprotected from dust and heat by a single tree”… Continue reading