Odessa is a relatively young city, this year it turned 226 years old. But its history began long before 1794, this year is considered the day of the foundation of the city.
People – Cimmerians, Scythians, ancient Slavs – have long settled on the northern coast of the Black Sea. In this area, there were constant droughts, there were no trees and building materials, a hot and humid climate. The only thing that was important was the bay, which did not freeze even in the coldest winters.
Starting from the 7th century BC , Greek colonists appeared there. Until the 9th century A.D. Tiverians and Uliches lived. In the XIII-XIV centuries there were Tatar tribes on the lands of the Northern Black Sea region, and on the site of modern Odessa there was a pier for Genoese ships. But the name of the port then bore Genestra (translated from Italian gorse, a plant that is often found in the Black Sea steppes).
At the end of the XIV beginning of the XV century these lands were freed from the Tatar yoke and became part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In the 15th century the first mentions of the settlement of Kachibey appear, at that time the entire Northern Black Sea region was captured by Turkey and the Crimean Khanate. The land itself and the settlement fell into decay under the conquerors.
The Ottoman Empire fortified Ochakovskaya, Akkermanskaya and Bendery (present Belgorod-Dnestrovskaya) fortresses, Izmail and several other small fortresses were erected. One of them was erected on the shores of the Khadzhibeyevsky (Odessa) Bay in 1764 and was called Yeni-Dunya (from the Turkish New World).
During the reign of Catherine II, campaigns were launched to capture the Black and Azov Seas, all this was done with the aim of developing trade and protecting the borders in southern Russia. On September 14, 1789, General Gudovich’s Russian corps and a detachment of Ukrainian Cossacks Anton Holovaty and Zinovy Chepyga stormed the Yeni-Dunya fortress. Later Suvorov took Izmail, Ochakov, Ackerman and Bendery surrendered. The Russo-Turkish War lasted from 1787 to 1791. and ended on December 29, 1791 with the signing of the Yassy Peace Treaty, according to which Russia received Crimea, Taman, the entire territory between the Southern Bug and the Dniester, including the territory of Khadzhibey.
In 1793 a fortress was built with five bastions and 120 cannons, surrounded by ditches and ramparts. The garrison numbered two thousand. A year later, May 27 (June 7) 1794 , according to the rescript of Catherine II, the construction of a new city and port was approved on the site of the Khadzhibey settlement. And already August 22 (September 2) 1794 a prayer service was held and the first piles were driven into the foundation of the city. On this day, the foundations of the Bolshoi and Platonovsky Moles, a shipyard, two marinas for merchant ships, two churches of St. Nicholas and St. Catherine were laid, and a trench was made for the foundations of city buildings. The first stone in the foundation of the city was laid by a Spanish nobleman and Russian military leader Jose de Ribas, or as he was called in Russia – Joseph Mikhailovich Deribas .
It was this date that became the day of the founding of Odessa. The city plan was preliminarily developed by military engineer Franz de Vollan and personally approved by the queen.
The city was built with a rectangular grid of streets, while the main highways and squares were highlighted. This planning enables the wind blowing from the sea to clear the streets of city dust and smoke. Since that time, the numbering of houses has been preserved, which began from the sea.
The very same name Odessa was not assigned to the city officially. According to historians, the conversation about the name of the city, which at that time was called Hajibey, was brought up by the courtiers of Catherine II at one of the balls. Someone mentioned the Greek port-colony of Odessa. It was then during the conversation that the queen expressed her wish: “To name the new city by the name of an ancient settlement, but in the feminine gender – Odessa .” In the documents of the Russian Empire, the name Odessa is mentioned the next year after the city was founded.
For some time there were difficulties with changing the name of Hajibey to Odessa. And then the city administration applied the “Kiev method”. Chumaks and merchants were met at the city gates and asked where they were going. If in response they said that they were going to Khadzhibey, then the keepers of order punished for this answer, whipping and saying: “To Odessa! To Odessa!”. This is how they got used to the new name.
These were the first steps of our city.