For nearly three centuries, Odessa was Russia's major warm-water seaport. That legacy ended in 1991 with the dissolution of the Soviet Empire. Today the city established by order of Catherine the Great is the gateway to the Ukrainian Riviera. International travelers flock to the "Pearl of the Black Sea," drawn by its beautiful beaches, temperate climate and elegant 18th-century architecture.
During the days of the Tsars, Odessa was home to such literary giant as Alexander Pushkin. The city also supported one of the largest Jewish communities in Europe.