Foundation of Odessa

2 September 1794

August 22 (September 2) 1794, on the site of the Turkish fortress Hacibey was founded the city of Odessa.

The Turkish fortress Hacibey was taken by storm by the Russian detachment led by Major General O. M. Deribas 14 (25) September 1789 during the Russian-Turkish war of 1787-1791. After the Treaty of Jassy, in 1791 Hacibey was once and for all annexed to Russia.

Soon, on the order of Catherine II, was raised the question of the construction of a port and a city on the Black Sea. Three projects were presented: Ochakov, Kinburn, Hacibey. The latter differed by a number of advantages: an excellent raid in the gulf, the favorable ground for anchorage, the possibility of year-round navigation, the lack of strong currents.

May 27 (June 7), 1794, Vice Admiral Deribas was ordered by the Empress to proceed to the founding of the city on the site of the Turkish fortress Hacibey. The order said: "We hope that you not only will realize our idea, but that knowing how much the thriving trade contributes to the people's welfare and enrichment of the state, will try to make the city you are creating not only a safe haven from storm for tradesmen, but will also provide protection and encouragement for their benefits; therefore, no doubt, as our trade flourishes there, this city will be filled with people in a short time."

The order also appointed the first architect of Odessa – François de Wollant.

August 22 (September 2) 1794, with the blessing of Metropolitan Gabriel of Ekaterinoslav and Tauride, in the presence of Deribas and de Wollant took place the solemn laying of the foundation stone.

That day, according to the first Odessa,historian A. Skalkovsky, there were laid the foundation stones of the Grand Pier, of the harbor for rowing boats, of the slipways and shipyards to repair state-owned ships, of two piers to the waterfront so that merchant ships could easily put in, of two churches in the name of St. Catherine and St. Nicholas. Also, the first furrow for the foundations of city buildings was made. Later began the construction of the quarantine, customs, Admiralty shop, hospital, catholic church, and the house to the chief.

In early 1795 Odessa became part of the Tiraspol County, Voznesensk Province. That same year the city was renamed from Haciby to Odessa in honor of a Greek colony Odissos situated near Odessa Bay.

Deribas engaged talented foreigners in building the city, began the construction of the port and created the necessary conditions for an increase in urban population. By the end of 1790, the city's population was about 4,500. Initially, Odessa was a major supplier of grain to Europe and East Asia.

When Emmanuel Duke de Richelieu was governing the city, Odessa became the main port of the Russian Empire in the Black Sea.


Lit.: Дерибас А. Старая Одесса. Исторические очерки и воспоминания. Одесса, 1913.


Based on the Presidential Library’s materials:

Скальковский А. А. Первое тридцатилетие истории города Одессы, 1793-1823. Одесса, 1837;

Орлов А. А. Исторический очерк Одессы с 1794 по 1803 год. Одесса, 1885;

Одесса : Ил. путеводитель. 1900. Одесса, 1900;

Первая Всеобщая перепись населения Российской империи 1897 г. 47: Город Одесса. СПб., 1904;

Французы в Одессе : Из белых мемуаров. Л., 1928;

Борисов А. Оборона Одессы : Краткий оперативно-тактический очерк. М., 1943.