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Odessa Sights

Potyomkin Steps

Description

The steps are a way from the downtown to the harbor and the passenger terminal of the port. Architect F.Boffo drew up the project in 1825 for Count M.Vorontsov, and the steps were built in 1837-1841 by engineers J.Upton and Yu.Morozov.


View from the sea in the middle of the 19th century. Nowadays the slopes are not so steep, and the arches are covered with ground.



View from the marine passenger terminal, 2003.

There are 192 steps in the structure — 10 flights by 20 steps, except for the last and but last ones that have 13 and 19 steps respectively. The reason for the number of steps fewer than in other flights is the lowest flight was partly buried when the street below was piled up. Originally, when the steps were built, they lead directly to the seas… It is not clear what happened to the 19 steps flight and whether there were 200 or 199 steps total originally.

The length of the steps is 142 m. They were built much wider at the base (21.7 m) than at the top (14.2 m). As a result, when looking from the top, one feels as if the steps were of equal width (an optical illusion). Also, individual steps are not seen from above (except for the top flight — if you walk up to the first step), only landings, whereas from below only steps can be seen as a whole but no landings.

There is a profound philosophy behind those effects: when you begin a lifetime journey, your way seems very long and full of small details to overcome, but when you get to the top you no longer see those details, except for the latest ones if you concentrate (i.e. move back closer to the steps), but you see landings that represent stages of your life, which does not seem so long now as it did in the beginning…

The steps became world famous after The Potyomkin Battleship movie filmed in 1925 by S.Eisenstein. Hence the modern name of the steps. Actually, they had had no proper name before 1925. They were called the Boulevard Steps, Grand Steps, Sea Steps, etc. But the reality was a little bit different from the movie plot.

Erosion was gradually destroying the steps, so the landings were asphalted in 1933, and each step was replaced with solid granite (originally they were of sandstone).


2012.

2003.


From below. 2013.

From the bridge. 2013.

View from the passenger terminal, 2003.



Location

Downtown.

Street Address

Primorskaya Street / Primorskiy Boulevard, Odessa, Ukraine.

Geographical Positions

E30°44'29.6" N46°29'18" (E30.741556° N46.488333°).

Map

Last Update

2013.06.13.

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