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The first Odessa Bribe

Odessa is a city of legends, myths and mysteries. Every citizen of Odessa seems to be a bit of a local history expert. Since the foundation of the city its citizens that are famous for a rich imagination, a good sense of humour, quick-wittedness and ingenuity, have become creators of Odessa myths. The Odessites not just believe, they are convinced that every district, everystreetandeveneverybuildinghasitsown riddlesandunique stories. Odessa myths make the life of the citizens easier. ArealOdessitehasnotto fight off the troubles, but to laugh them off.
There is one important peculiarity: Odessa myths leave Odessa and come back like a boomerang with new incredible details and impressions.

It is hard to mention all the stories and mysteries of Odessa, but here is one of them.
At the end of Preobrazhenskaya street, at the corner of Zhvanetskiy Boulevard there is a monument called ‘The Citrus Bribe’. This monument is rather weird and unusual. At the pedestal you can see a huge bronze orange with one segment missing. The Emperor Paul I stands firmly in the place of the missing segment. A three-horse carriage is harnessed to the orange. At the top of the orange you can see well-known buildings of Odessa in miniature –Vorontsov Palace Colonnade, Opera and Ballet Theatre and Spaso-Preobrazhenskiy Cathedral.

In order to understand the meaning of this sculptural composition, just listen to our story. TodayOdessaiscalled ‘ThePearlattheSea’. However, thecitysurvivedsomecrisesanddepressions. OnMay, 27, 1794 theEmpress CatherineIIissuedadecreeon construction of a commercial sea portin Odessa. This decree was not put in to effect in the lifetime of the empress. Paul I took over the throne after the death of Catherine II, annulled her decree and fully stopped the construction of the sea port. The trade that was the main activity of our city stopped. Odessa faced a lot of difficulties and was almost on the verge of bankruptcy. Itseemedimpossibletofind a way out, but local citizens found it, as usual! As soon as Odessa merchants had heard about the Emperor Paul’s decision, theydecidedtoprovethenecessityofportconstructioninOdessa.

PaulIliked citrus fruits a lot. TheywereusuallybroughttoSaintPetersburgbytheBalticSea, so theywereontheEmperor’stable 2 or 3 monthslaterand not of the best quality.
The Odessites sent the Emperor 3000 best Greek oranges. Every orange was wrapped in paper. The high value parcel wassentbyhorsestothenorthern capital of the Russian Empire.Theparcelwithorangeswas delivered 3 weeks later. Citrus fruitswere in a very good condition. PaulI tried the oranges and said: ‘Odessa is a rather useful city’. Thus, the oranges saved Odessa from the Emperor’s disfavour and are considered to be the first bribe of the Odessites.

Nowadaysitisdifficulttojudge if it is fact or fiction. There is no need to do this! Welcome to our hospitable southern city! Come and see everything with your own eyes!