Potemkin Steps – Odessa, Ukraine
Based on historical events, the movie revolves around an uprising on board the Battleship Potemkin in 1905. Conditions on the ship are dreadful and the situation comes to a head when the ship’s doctor declares rancid meat safe to eat. In a show of protest, the sailors buy provisions at the canteen instead of eating the rancid meat. This angers the Admiral and he orders all those who ate the borsch made with the rancid meat to step under the cannons to show their loyalty, whereas those who did not are to be covered under a tarp and executed. One of the sailors by the name of Vakulinchik pleads with his shipmates to rise up against the officers of the ship. All the officers are killed and the ship is liberated. Vakulinchik unfortunately is killed during the uprising. As a symbol of the revolution, his body is placed on the docks in Odessa harbour. When the citizens of Odessa came to join the Potemkin sailors in their revolt, tsarist troops brutally slaughtered them on the steps, effectively ending the revolt in Odessa. A fleet of battleships then comes to destroy the Potemkin….
The steps were built in 1841 to the design by F. Boffo, an architect who was responsible for many of the classic buildings in Odessa. Previously called the Boulevard Steps or the Gigantic Steps, it was renamed Potemkin Steps after the fateful 1905 mutiny. The stairways run down from bul Prymorsky, a busy pedestrian zone, down to the port area. The steps themselves offer two interesting features: When standing at the top of the stairways, all you can see are a few landings, however, when you stand at the base of the steps, all you can see are steps and not the landings. It’s an optical illusion created by varying the dimensions of the steps. The differences are small enough that you don’t notice it when climbing the steps. The variance also have the effect of making the steps look more gigantic and long than it really is.
Potemkin Steps today is a recreational area for locals and you’ll see people of all ages here. For those who don’t feel like walking up or down the steps, there is of course a cable car that runs from the port level to the top and it’s free. If you are here on a river cruise, your ship will be berthed near the steps, which makes it easily accessible.