We support Oulu2026: Odessa, Ukraine

4.12.2020 | Along the way


Odessa has an official twinning agreement with Oulu since 1957. Oulu is the first and the oldest sister city of Odessa.

Odessa, a city celebrated in cinema and literature, is the top tourist destination of the Black Sea and the maritime capital of Ukraine. Thanks to its port system, Odessa is an international logistic hub.

With a population of almost exactly a million, Odessa is famous for its cultural heritage, the sophisticated gastronomy and the sparkly nightlife, which created the myth of the “Pearl of the Black Sea”. Above all, its worldwide fame is due to the cinema masterpiece “Battleship Potëmkin” (Ejzenstejn, 1925), with the unforgettable scene of the massacre on the stairway, which is still Odessa’s main landmark. Indeed, it was the Hollywood of Soviet Union.

READ ALSO: The Battleship Potemkin: a masterpiece of Soviet cinema and propaganda


The most intriguing characteristic of Odessa is the cosmopolitan soul due to the numerous nationalities contributing to the building of the city since its foundation: Italian, French, German, Greek, Turkish, British, Polish, Bulgarian, Romanian and Jewish.

Odessa was founded in 1794 by the Neapolitan officer José De Ribas, serving under Catherine the Great, who seized a local Turkish fort and scouted the harbour during the war with the Ottoman Empire. He choose the name of Odessa, from the legend of Odysseus. Thanks to him the first leading class of the city was composed by merchants and ship-owners from Naples, Palermo and Genoa.

READ ALSO: A musical masterpiece from Odessa: ‘O sole mio

After the immigration of Italians, the City’s business spine was integrated by Germans, Greeks and Jewish (more than one third of the population, before the Revolution). Odessa was the easiest place of the Russian Empire to become rich, due to its status of “Porto Franco” (tax exemption on trade). This reason created the legend of “Russian California”. The famous American writer Mark Twain visited Odessa in 1867 and wrote: “I stood in Odessa for the first time. It looked just like an American city”.


Odessa is the gastronomic capital of Ukraine because of the fusion of many food traditions: Greek- Jewish-Ukrainian cuisine with nuances from Armenia, Georgia, France, Italy, Bulgaria and Turkey. Given the trade relations developed in Odessa, you can get porcini mushrooms from Trans-Carpathian, tasty vegetables from Southern Ukraine, meat from the North and fresh fish from the Black Sea.


In July, Odessa hosts the main cinema happening of Black Sea region, the window of new productions of Eastern European countries. It is also the most exclusive social event of the Ukrainian high society, which gathers in the sunny Odessa for the red carpet ceremony and for the sparkly night parties.


Ukrainians are the highest portion or seafarers of the world, after the Filipinos. The biggest quota of captains and officers of the worldwide merchant fleet are graduates in the Navy Academies of Odessa. The city has the highest number of crewing and shipping management agencies in the world.

READ ALSO: Marcello Mastroianni at the Odessa Film Festival


  1. Beautiful architecture and ironic monuments: Potemkin Stairway, Opera Theatre, Passage (monumental arcade) and the catacombs are the city’s most famous touristic sites. There are also amazing courtyards, museums and funny monuments (“Orange the Tsar”, “Policeman with birds”, the 12th Chair, the Sailor’s wife, etc.), which create the atmosphere of a movie setting.
  2. Gastronomy: Odessa is the capital of Ukrainian-fusion cuisine. In its dishes is present the influence of Bessarabian, Jewish, French, Georgian, Genoese, Turkish and Mongolian cuisine. Odessa’s restaurants are very cosy, with a sophisticate taste for interior design.
  3. Beaches and nightlife: Odessa beach clubs are famous as well as the City’s nightlife. The low cost compared with quality of entertainment is very competitive for exciting summer holidays.
  4. A house in Odessa: expatriates in Odessa have the feeling to live in a city with mixed ingredients: European style, maritime atmosphere, ironic and charming people. The City broadcasts love vibes, due to literature references and local beauties. Many foreigners buy apartments in Odessa for personal use or investment (they are cheaper than in other European cities).
  5. Business: Odessa is the sea gateway of Ukrainian agriculture export to Middle and Far East, North Africa and Europe markets, and a logistic hub connecting trade from the Black Sea to the Baltic Sea and Central Europe, through railway routes. An ideal place for foreign investors, looking for opportunities in Port infrastructure, logistics services and agriculture machineries.
  6. Rich cultural life: the city is a mixture of history, multicultural traditions and modern art.

READ ALSO: The economic role of Odessa in the world supply chains


Oulu is the first and the oldest sister city of Odessa. They are both members of Eurocities network. The main events of the twinning:

  1. March 1993. Members of the friendship society “Ukraine-Finland”, headed by A. Nizov, visited the Municipality of Oulu.
  2. May 1993. The Odessa friends Association delegation from Oulu, headed by Eino Laaksonen, visited Odessa.
  3. August 1997. Oulu delegation visited Odessa to realize the Oulu days in Odessa for the celebration of 40 years sister cities relationships and the participation in the EU programme.
  4. May 2005. The folklore group of Odessa Music School No. 4 participated in the school festival for the celebration of the 400 years of Oulu foundation.
  5. August 2005. Visit to Oulu by the delegation of Odessa City Council delegation, guided by Deputy Mayor L. Losuk, during the celebration of Oulu day.
  6. January 2006. Cooperation agreement signed by Odessa Mayor Eduard Gurvits and Oulu Mayor Kari Nenonen. The parties agreed on the mutual collaborations within the Oulu-11 development project, aimed was to support Oulu as a candidate to European cultural capital of 2011.
  7. On July 14th, 2006, the Ambassador of the Finnish Republic in Ukraine, Laura Reinilya visited the Odessa Mayor Eduard Gurvits to coordinate the celebration of the 50 anniversary of Odessa–Oulu relations. She was accompanied by Khanni Khuvarinin, press officer of the Finnish Embassy.
  8. On April, 22–26, 2007, Odessa Mayor Eduard Gurvits launched the celebration for the 50th anniversary of the twinning agreement. Events calendar: official meeting with “Oulu Friends in Odessa” society, Finnish literature evening, exhibition dedicated to Odessa-Oulu relations, concert of bands from Odessa and Finland. Moreover, the two cities’ delegations discussed the renewal of the exchange programme between Oulu University and Odessa State University “Mechnikov”.
  9. On November, 21–26, 2007, participation of Odessa to Oulu’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of the twinning, with a performance of Odessa’s artists “Malvy” bandura players trio.



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