Thursday, April 12, 2007

Potemkin Stairs

Potemkin Stairs stand sixth on the list of 10 most beautiful stairs in Europe, though citizens call it "the 8th wonder of the world" in joke. It has 142 meters in length and includes 192 steps (originally 200 steps). The architectural solution of Potemkin Stairs is very interesting as it is based on optical illusion: when you look down the stairs you see only the entries, while when you look up the stairs you see only the steps. Also when you look down the stairs it seems that both sides of the stone parapet are parallel, however, the width of the bottom of the stairs is twice more than the width of the top.

The name of the stairs has nothing to do with famous Potemkin. At first they were called "Nicholas Stairs", "Boulevard Stairs" or "Giant Stairs" (by the way, it was Mark Twain who called them "Giant Stairs" in his novel "The Innocents Abroad" after he visited Odessa). In fact, the stairs were built from 1837 till 1841 on demand of Prince Vorontsov by architect F. Boffo’s design, which was approved by the Russian Emperor Nicholas I. Once the stairs were ready, Duke Voronsov presented them as a gift to his wife Elizabeth. Ironically, the stairs became famous around the world because of S. Eisenstein’s movie "The Battleship Potemkin" devoted to sailors rebellion in 1905. One of the greatest scenes of the movie was filmed on - since that time - Potemkin Stairs.

Potemkin Stairs is one of the best places in Odessa with a view of the harbor. Near the stairs there are other things Odessa is proud of: monument of Odessa founder Duke Armand de Richelieu, Pushkin monument, Opera House, etc. So after taking a picture of you and Duke de Richelieu, you can easily go down the stairs to the sea port and then back because optimal angle of inclination and optimal number of entries will not let you get tired. If you still got tired you can use Funicular – another relic of old Odessa.

1 comment:

bluechipholidays said...

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