The historic center in the Ukrainian Black Sea port city Odesa was added to UNESCO’s endangered World Heritage Sites.
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, this key strategic port city has been the subject of Russian bombing. It is well-known for its rich history and historic architectural landmarks. Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian president, made a formal appeal last October to the United Nations’ cultural organization to protect the city’s center. This move offers Odesa international assistance and could lead to its destruction.
“I’m thankful to partners who protect our pearl against the Russian invaders’ attacks!” Zelensky tweetedafter UNESCO voted for the inscription at a special meeting on January 25.
Audrey Azoulay (Director-General of UNESCO), described Odesa in a statement as “a world City, a legendary port that has left its marks on cinema, literature, and the arts.
She said, “While the war goes on, this inscription symbolizes our collective determination that this city, which has always survived global upheavals,”
This city is known for its landmark architecture, such as the Odesa Opera House, and the long harbor staircase that was immortalized in the silent 1925 classic Battleship potemkin. Azoulay claims that the Ukrainian application for Odesa described Odesa as “a melting pot, of migration and exchange”, with “a heritage and history that resonates with people all over the world and serves as a powerful symbol.”
Odesa, which has access to the Black Sea –a crucial transit hub for Ukraine’s grain exports –is a major target of the Russian military. Despite being bombarded by the Russians, Odesa continues to resist occupation.
A part of Odesa Museum of Modern Art was destroyed in an aerial attack on the city last July. UNESCO provided funding for repairs and financed digitization and protective equipment. Nearly the entire collection of the Odesa Museum of Fine Arts contained more than 12,000 works prior to the war. However, the museum staff moved it for safekeeping in February.
The role of Russian empress Catherine the Great in the founding modern Odesa in 1974 is a matter of dispute. Russia has used the city’s imperial past to defend its attempt at annexation. Odesa residents have denied the connection. Odesa’s central square was emptied of a monument to the empress in December.