Don Jose Pasqual de Ribas (1749/1751-1800) is a Spanish noble by birth, a Russian military leader and politician. He is the founder of Odessa, the city and the port. Russians called him Iosif or Iosip Mihaylovich Deribas. He was born in Naples and died in St.Petersburg. Since 1769 he served to the Russian crown. He took an active part in Russo-Turkish wars. As a result of one the wars, Russia reclaimed first the Crimea, then the Bessarabia. Suvorov called de Ribas The Danube Hero for his part in the taking of Izmail, and Catherine the 2nd presented him a sword decorated with diamonds and an estate in Russia with 800 peasant serfs.
So, after another war the territory between the Bug and the Dniester belonged again to Russia. In 1793 rear admiral de Ribas was appointed commander-in-chief of the entire Black Sea row fleet, and in May, 1793 he became vice admiral and was made chief of the port and city construction.
De Ribas was a smart and active person and knew the location very well. He drew up a plan to set up a port together with de Wollant. He chose this location because of the bay that very seldom iced. He accounted for all the details in his plan up to the costs. On the 2nd of September, 1794, the city was formally founded.
The main street was named after him: Deribasovskaya Street.
It is interesting to know that de Ribas had an opponent, or rather a competitor, also a vice admiral. His name was Mordvinov and he campaigned for a new port to be built around Ochakov. De Ribas managed to win CatherineÒs support. So he is not only the founder of Odessa but also the one who made it possible to found it at all. If it had not been for him, Odessa might never have come into being. Or a hellhole may have been at best where the great city now is.
It is also typical for Odessa that its founderÒs father was a Jew. This is probably when the saying "Who is not a Jew in Odessa" first appeared.
De Ribas died in St.Petersburg and was buried there. His early death is subject to many theories. Possibly, there is a connection to a conspiracy against Paul the 1st. In 2005-2006 the Odessa Council tried to negotiate a removal of de RibasÒ grave to Odessa, but Russia refused. It should be pointed out in this connection that his grave had been looted and desecrated back in 1989, in the USSR.
The monument at the beginning of the street named after the city founder was formally opened for OdessaÒs 200th anniversary on the 2nd of September, 1994. The sculptor is A.Knyazik, the architect is V.Glazyrin.
Another monument to de Ribas was reopened in 2007. It is a part of the monument to the city founders in Yekaterininskaya Square.
Deribasovskaya Street, Odessa.
E30-44'42.3 N46-29'0.8" (E30.745083- N46.483556-).
Odessa | Sights | Dating | Genealogy
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