Odesa is referred to as the "Pearl of the Black Sea" is the 3rd largest city in Ukraine, the largest city along the Black Sea, and the most important city of Ukraine for trade. Odesa's mild climate, warm waters and sunlit beaches attract hundreds of thousands of people year around. Its shady lanes, beautiful lightly pastel buildings and cozy squares impart to the city a certain air of intimacy.
Odesa is simply enchanting with its marvelous architecture. Odesa's history as a thriving enterprise has left the city with some splendid architecture from the 18th and 19th centuries and a multifaceted, irrepressible spirit. Some buildings display a carious mixture of different styles, such as distinct French architecture with a distinct Russian flavor, and some are built in the Art Nouveau Style which was in vogue at the turn of the century. Its stately 19th century classical architecture is set on orderly planned streets that are surrounded with green space, giving the city an air of elegance.
Strikingly ornate buildings of the late 19th and early 20th century are reminiscent of Right Bank Paris. Most buildings in Odesa were built with white stone consisting of calcareous materials imbedded with seashells, which appears to be saturated with hot sunshine. This gives many of the city's buildings a whitewashed appearance. The extracted limestone resulted in the formation of an entire labyrinth of underground galleries.
One of the few planned cities in Ukraine, Odesa's central core is laid out in a grid. The first city plan designed by the engineer F. Devollan in the late 18th century was executed by the generations of Odesa architects that followed. As early as the first half of the 19th century, the numerous landowners who had moved to Odesa attracted by the profitable grain trade, started constructing their private residences. As a rule, they would build palace compounds: two-storied mansions with forecourts, wrought iron grilles and porticos indicating the entrance. Even today, the formal halls of these palaces are strikingly opulent. The mansions of wealthy merchants and factory-owners built to the designs of the best Odesa architects were concealed in the verdure of Frantsuzky Boulevard.