Odessa or Odesa (Ukrainian: Оде́са, romanized: Odesa [oˈdɛsɐ] (listen); Russian: Оде́сса, romanized: Odessa [ɐˈdʲesə]; Bulgarian: Оде́са, romanized: Odesa) is the third most populous city of Ukraine and a major tourism center, seaport and transport hub located on the northwestern shore of the Black Sea. It is also the administrative center of the Odessa Oblast and a multiethnic cultural center. Odessa is sometimes called the "pearl of the Black Sea", the "South Capital" (under the Russian Empire and Soviet Union), and "Southern Palmyra".
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Before the Tsarist establishment of Odessa, an ancient Greek settlement existed at its location. A more recent Tatar settlement was also founded at the location by Hacı I Giray, the Khan of Crimea in 1440 that was named after him as Hacibey (or Khadjibey). After a period of Lithuanian Grand Duchy control, Hacibey and surroundings became part of the domain of the Ottomans in 1529 and remained there until the empire's defeat in the Russo-Turkish War of 1792.
In 1794, the city of Odessa was founded by a decree of the Russian empress Catherine the Great. From 1819 to 1858, Odessa was a free port—a porto-franco. During the Soviet period, it was the most important port of trade in the Soviet Union and a Soviet naval base. On 1 January 2000, the Quarantine Pier at Odessa Commercial Sea Port was declared a free port and free economic zone for a period of 25 years.
During the 19th century, Odessa was the fourth largest city of Imperial Russia, after Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Warsaw. Its historical architecture has a style more Mediterranean than Russian, having been heavily influenced by French and Italian styles. Some buildings are built in a mixture of different styles, including Art Nouveau, Renaissance and Classicist.Odessa is a warm-water port. The city of Odessa hosts both the Port of Odessa and Port Yuzhne, a significant oil terminal situated in the city's suburbs. Another notable port, Chornomorsk, is located in the same oblast, to the south-west of Odessa. Together they represent a major transport hub integrating with railways. Odessa's oil and chemical processing facilities are connected to Russian and European networks by strategic pipelines. Current population is 1,017,699 (2020 est.)