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Articles

17/09/2012

Potemkin Stairs


Potemkin Stairs

Potemkin Stairs is the prominent staircase in Odessa, connecting the city center to the port and seaport.

The idea of the grand staircase unit owned by prominent architect AI Melnikov and was a part of the planning of the boulevard. June 15, 1826 the project of Boulevard confirmed Tsar Nicholas I. The grand staircase was built in 1841. Prince Vorontsov ordered to construct the ladder as a gift to his wife Elizabeth, it cost the city 800 thousand rubles. Staircase was built "in the place where was the path," as claimed old-timer of Odessa Michael Deribas.

There are some interesting features of the staircase. Thus, a person looking down the stairs sees only the landings, and the steps are invisible, but a person looking up sees only steps, and the landings are invisible. A secondary illusion creates false perspective since the stairs are wider at the bottom than at the top. Looking up the stairs makes them seem longer than they are and looking down the stairs makes them seem not so long.

This was an intention of its creators. They had to enhance artificially the perspective, thus to magnify visually the length of staircase, to give it a majestic look. Stairs and landings were covered with stone delivered by the ferries, coming to city for bread. Side two-meter railings were built of local limestone. In 1933, during the reconstruction stages were tiled with pink and gray granite.

Currently staircase consists of 192 steps (originally there were two hundred, but during the port expansion the part of the stage was covered). Overall length is 142 meters, it is built perspectively - its base is much wider than the top, so when you look from the Primorskii(Seaside) Boulevard it seems that there is no perspective.

Staircase was designed by architect Franz Boffo in 1825. Construction of stairs completed in 1841. It originally had more aesthetic functions than practical. In the front of the stairs there is a monument to Duke de Richelieu, which is the hallmark of Odessa.

Different sources name staircase differently - "Giant", "Boulevard" and "Vorontsovskaya." The official name it obtained only in 1951, but almost immediately after the film "Battleship Potemkin" by Sergei Eisenstein, in a key scene of which stroller was rolling on the stairs, therefore staircase began to call Potemkin. And writers who have written about it, often depart from the events depicted in the film, replacing the historical reality by fiction of Eisenstein. History and cinema have forever tied Giant staircase with the rebellious battleship "Potemkin." First mention about "Potemkin Stairs" can be found in the foreign film critic of the late 1920's.

Next to the Stairs operates funicular. It was built in 1902, and in 1970 was replaced by the escalator. In the early 90's, the escalator broke. And, in 2005, the funicular was restored.

According to the investigation conducted under the auspices of Marketing e tv, Potemkin Stairs went under the sixth number of the ten most beautiful stairs in Europe. A race "Up the Potemkin Stairs" is held annually on it.Competition record is 22.8 seconds.

Address: Odessa, Catherine (Ekaterininskaya) Street (between Primorsky Boulevard and Primorskaya Street).

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