Few venues in the world can rival Odessa’s recently restored Opera and Ballet Theatre for its incredible breathtaking beauty and delightful romantic grandeur. Designed by the legendary Italian architects Ferdinand Fellner and Herman Helmer, who were also behind the magnificent Vienna State Opera House, this majestic synthesis of Italian baroque and French rococo traditions is a true Ukrainian national treasure and the perfect place to enjoy the cultural experience of a lifetime on a very special evening event.
The Odessa Theatre of Opera and Ballet first opened its doors in 1887 and is luxuriously decorated with intricately moulded gilt ornamentation which seems to flow organically from beneath a huge chandelier as though echoing the ostentatious opulence of Versailles in Paris. The stage is five hundred square metres in size and has acoustics so perfect, the merest whisper can be heard from any part of the auditorium.
For over a hundred years the most celebrated performers in history have graced its magical boards. Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff have conducted here; the great Enrico Caruso once sang, as did Feodor Chaliapin; Anna Pavlova and Isadora Duncan have both pirouetted across its stage. The production you will see is yet to be confirmed, but one thing is certain, an unparalleled performance by one of the greatest companies in the world inside one of the most spectacular auditoriums on earth awaits you, as we take care of everything so that you may relax and enjoy the show.
All cognac is brandy, but not all brandy is cognac. The grapes must come from vineyards where the soil is just right and the climate is equally as important, which is why, like Champagne, the vast majority of cognac is produced within a very small area of France, in vineyards surrounding the town that gave the drink its name.
The Shustov brandy company is one of the very few outside of France to have been granted an Appellation d’origine controlee, meaning it has been officially recognised as an authentic producer of the finest quality cognac. This prestigious acknowledgement dates back more than one hundred years and is the result of an outstanding emphasis on quality rather than quantity.
During your mouth-watering tour around the Shustov Brandy Museum you will learn more about the industry techniques for making each cognac unique. The museum has two rooms filled with antique apparatus and another dedicated to the story of the Shustov dynasty. A short film about the history of cognac-making in Ukraine is also available to watch.
Of course no visit to such a prestigious cellar would be complete without a tasting, so after your tour is complete some of the very finest cognacs produced by Shustov will be ready and waiting for you inside the museum’s stylish Art-Bar, including very special reserves and Napoléon blends that have been aged from 3 to 11 years.
According to legend the first mayor of Odessa, the Duc de Richelieu, wanted to build a city as beautiful as his native Paris. Today his statue stands at the top of the iconic Potemkin Steps, not far from a monument to the city’s other founders, Catherine the Great and her companions, ready to welcome visitors arriving from the direction of the sea.
The vast Potemkin staircase is 27 metres high and extends for 142 metres, but gives an optical illusion of much greater length, making it a truly extraordinary experience to climb. A person looking down the steps sees only the landings, with the steps invisible, but a person looking up them sees only the steps, with the landings invisible.
Your guided tour then continues to the city hall, outside which stands a British Tiger Gun captured during the Crimean campaign in 1854, as well as a bronze bust of the great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin, who lived in the city between 1823 and 1824. Just across the square from these monuments is the 19th-century Archaeology Museum, the first of its kind ever to be founded in the former Russian Empire, which houses a world-class collection of Greek, Scythian and early Slavic artefacts, as well as prehistoric gold jewellery.
No visit to Odessa would be complete without one of the city’s most famous sights, the magnificent Opera and Ballet Theatre. Finally, you will step inside the recently restored 18th-century Transfiguration Cathedral, on your way to the neo-classical Palace of Count Pototsky, which is now the Odessa Art Museum and contains thousands of pieces, including works by the 18th-century portraitist Dmitry Levitsky, the Romantic painter Ivan Ayvazovsky and the Realist Ilya Repin.
A tale of two palaces, this delightful tour affords the chance to discover more about the rich cultural heritage of Odessa by exploring two of its most opulent buildings, Prince Gagarin’s Palace and the palace of Count Mikhail Tolstoy, who was a cousin of the great Russian novelist, Leo Tolstoy.
Designed and built by the 19th-century architect Franz Boffo, the former home of Count Tolstoy boasts an extraordinary gilded ballroom known as the White Hall, as well as the lavish “Silk” and “Marble” lounges, all of which are filled with original furniture and memorabilia, including a piano believed to have been owned by Franz Liszt. In 1920 the Tolstoy family was obliged to abandon the palace, but the photographs they left behind are still on display and provide an intriguing insight into pre-revolutionary life. Since 1934 the palace has become a prestigious meeting place for the city’s scientific community, including a number of celebrated Nobel prize winners.
By contrast, the 19th-century palace of Nikolai Sergeevich Gagarin is today home to the Literary Museum of Odessa and has been arranged to showcase the many notable writers who have flocked to this region of Ukraine. During your guided tour you will also discover the strange tale behind Prince Gagarin’s demise at the hands of a game keeper, before enjoying a glass of champagne and a very special string concert in the palace’s magnificent Golden Hall.
Discover historic and cultural landmarks of Odessa, starting with a walking tour along Prymorsky Boulevard, lined with 19th-century gas lamps, majestic trees and aristocratic palaces.
Begin your tour with a drive to Catherine Square, named after the great Russian tsarina. Your path takes you past the Potemkin Steps and the monument to Odessa's first governor, the Duke de Richelieu, who sought to make the city as beautiful as Paris. Continue to the Opera and Ballet Theater where Anna Pavlova once danced, an opulent blend of styles by 19th-century Viennese architects.
Your visit to its gilt-trimmed interior is a highlight of this tour. Next, a short drive takes you to the City Garden, a small park centrally located beside the famous Deribasovskaya Street, bustling with cafes. Stroll past the park's flowers and fountain and call at the Passage to see the shops and sculptures in its beautiful interior. Next proceed to the recently restored Transfiguration Cathedral, Odessa's largest church, founded in 1794, demolished by the Soviets and rebuilt in 1999.
In Cathedral Square, you'll have free time to browse. Admire the monument to Count Mikhail Vorontsov (1781-1856), a former governor who built the first steamship to navigate the Dnieper and established steamship service for Black Sea ports. Following this highlightfilled trip, you return to the port.