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The Potemkin Stairs ( , Pot’omkins’ki Skhоdy, , Potemkinskaya lestnitsa), is a giant stairway in Odessamarker, Ukrainemarker. The stairs are considered a formal entrance into the city from the direction of the sea and are the best known symbol of Odessa.

The stairs were originally known as the Boulevard steps, the Giant Staircase, or the Richelieu steps. p. 119. Referencing p. 616
* p. 18, 25
* p. 498 "The Richelieu Steps in Odessa were renamed the "Potemkin Steps"...
* p. 223



The top step is 12.5 meters (41 ft) wide, and the lowest step is 21.7 meters (70.8 ft) wide. The staircase is 27 meters high, and extends for 142 meters, but it gives the illusion of greater length.

The stairs were designed to create an optical illusion. 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.

History





Odessa, perched on a high steppe plateau, needed direct access to the harbor below it. Before the stairs were constructed, winding paths and crude wooden stairs were the only access to the harbor.

The original 200 stairs were designed in 1825 by F. Boffo, St. Petersburg architects Avraam I. Melnikov and Pot'e. The staircase cost 800,000 rubles to build.

In 1837, the decision was made to build a "monstrous staircase", which was constructed between 1837 and 1841. An English engineer named Upton constructed the stairs. Upton had fled Britain while on bail for forgery. Greenish-grey sandstone from the extreme northeastern Italianmarker town of Triestemarker (at the time it was an Austriamarker town) was shipped in.

As erosion destroyed the stairs, in 1933 the sandstone was replaced by rose-grey granite from the Boh area, and the landings were covered with asphalt. Eight steps were lost under the sand when the port was being extended, reducing the number of stairs to 192, with ten landings.

The steps were made famous in Sergei Eisenstein's 1925 silent film The Battleship Potemkin.

On the left side of the stairs, a funicular was built in 1906 to transport people up instead of walking. After 50 years of operation, the funicular was outdated and was later replaced by an escalator built in 1970. The escalator broke in the 1990s, the money for its repair was stolen, but it was replaced with a new funicular in 2004.

After the Soviet revolution, in 1955 the Primorsky Stairs were renamed Potemkin Stairs to honor the 50th anniversary of the Battleship Potemkin uprising. After Ukrainian independence, the Potemkin Stairs, like many streets in Odessa, were given back their original name, the Primorsky Stairs. Most Odessites still know and refer to the stairs by their Soviet name.

Duc de Richelieu Monument

At the top of the stairs is a monument depicting the Armand-Emmanuel du Plessis, Duc de Richelieu, a French nobleman who became Odessa's first governor. The Roman-toga figure was designed by the Russian sculptor, Ivan Petrovich Martos (1754-1835). The statue was cast in bronze by Yefimov and unveiled in 1826. It is the first monument erected in the city.

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