The Potemkin Stairs (Ukrainian: Потьомкінські сходи, Pot’omkins’ki Skhоdy, Russian: Потёмкинская лестница, Potyomkinskaya lestnitsa), is a giant stairway in Odessa, Ukraine. 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 top step is 12.5 metres (41 ft) wide, and the lowest step is 21.7 metres (70.8 ft) wide. The staircase is 27 metres (88.5 ft) high, and extends for 142 metres (465.9 ft), 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.
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.
In 1837, the decision was made to build a "monstrous staircase", which was constructed between 1837 and 1841. An English engineer named John Upton constructed the stairs. Upton had fled Britain while on bail for forgery. Greenish-grey sandstone from Trieste (then in Austrian territory) was shipped in.
The steps were made famous in Sergei Eisenstein's 1925 silent film The Battleship Potemkin; according to the fictionalized account in that film, soldiers opened fire on the people on the stairs on June 14, 1905. According to journalist Chukovsky, who was in the city during the events, it is unknown whether the Cossacks at the top of the stairs, that were filled with people, actually opened fire on the stairs. In Eisenstein's movie the horrific events that actually took place in various parts of the city were concentrated at the stairs. A similar method was used later by photographer and artist Alexey Titarenko in his series "City of Shadows" (1991-1993) using a crowd of desperate people at the stairs near a subway station in Saint Petersburg as a symbol of human tragedy. Noted film critic Roger Ebert writes, "That there was, in fact, no Czarist massacre on the Odessa Steps scarcely diminishes the power of the scene ... It is ironic that [Eisenstein] did it so well that today the bloodshed on the Odessa steps is often referred to as if it really happened."
As erosion destroyed the stairs, in 1933 the sandstone was replaced by rose-grey granite from the Southern Bug 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.
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 stands a monument depicting Armand-Emmanuel du Plessis, Duc de Richelieu, a French nobleman who became Odessa's first governor in 1803. The Russian sculptor Ivan Petrovich Martos (1754–1835) designed the Roman-toga-clad figure. The statue was cast in bronze by Yefimov and unveiled in 1826 - the first monument erected in the city.
|“||A flight of steps unequalled in magnificence, leads down the declivity to the shore and harbour||”|
|“||This expensive and useless toy, is likely to cost nearly forty thousand pounds.||”|
|“||One of the great sights of Odessa is the staircase street that extends from the harbor shore to the end of the fine boulevard at the top of the hill. Seeing it, don't you involuntarily wonder why such an idea is not oftener carried out? The very simplicity of the design gives it a monumental character; the effect is certainly dignified and majestic. It would be no small task to climb all those stairs. Twenty steps in each flight, ten flights to climb, we should be glad of the ten level landings for breathing space before we reached the top of the hill.||”|
|“||From the centre of the Boulevard, a staircase called the "escalier monstre" descends to the beach. The contractor for this work was ruined. It is an ill-conceived design if intended for ornament; its utility is more than doubtful and its execution defective, that its fall is already anticipated. An Odessa wag has prophesied that the Duc de Richelieu, whose statue is at the top, will be the first person to go down it.||”|
|“||Viewed from one side, the figure Duc de Richelieu Monument seems so miserable that wags claim that it seems to be saying "'Give money here'"||”|
|“||Seen from below the vast staircase, the Duc de Richelieu Monument "appeared crushed" and, the statue should have been of colossal dimensions or else it should have been placed elsewhere.||”|
- Herlihy, Patricia (1987, 1991). Odessa: A History, 1794-1914. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-916458-15-6, hardcover; ISBN 0-916458-43-1, paperback reprint Check
|isbn=value (help). p. 140
- "Primorsky (Potemkin) Stairs". 2odessa.com. Retrieved 2006-08-02.
- Karakina, Yelena; Tatyana Samoilova, Anna Ishchenko (2004). Touring Odessa. BDRUK. ISBN 966-8137-01-9. p. 32
- Prince Michael Vorontsov: Viceroy to the Tsar. McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP. 1990. ISBN 0-7735-0747-7. p. 119. Referencing USSR: Nagel Travel Guide Series. New York: McGraw Hill. 1965. p. 616
*Bell, Christopher M; Bruce A Elleman (2003). Naval Mutinies of the Twentieth Century: An International Perspective. Routledge (UK). ISBN 0-7146-5460-4. p. 18, 25
*Montefiore, S Sebag (2001). The Prince of Princes: The Life of Potemkin. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-27815-2. p. 498 "The Richelieu Steps in Odessa were renamed the "Potemkin Steps"...
*Woodman, Richard (2005). A Brief History Of Mutiny: A Brief History of Mutiny at Sea. Carroll & Graf Publishers. ISBN 0-7867-1567-7. p. 223
- Herlihy, p. 140 "12.5 metres wide and 21.5 metres wide"
- Kononova, p. 51 "12.5 m at the top and 21.6 m at the bottom"
- Karakina, p. 31 "13.4 and 21.7 meters wide"
- Kononova, G. (1984). Odessa: A Guide. Moscow: Raduga Publishers. p. 51
- Kononova confusingly writes on page 48, "The idea of an architectural ensemble with a broad flight of stone steps leading to the sea which links the high bank with the low shore and provides a gateway to the city, belongs to the well-known St. Petersburg 19th century architect Avraam Melnikov." But on page 51 writes, "The famous Potemkin stairs leading from the square to the sea and Uiltsa Suvorova (Suvorov St.) was designed in 1825 by F. Boffo".
- Reid, Anna (2000). Borderland: A Journey Through the History of Ukraine. Westview Press. ISBN 0-8133-3792-5. p. 61
- Protzman, Ferdinand. "Landscape. Photographs of Time and Place." National Geographic, 2003, ISBN 0-7922-6166-6
- "The Battleship Potemkin (1925)". Chicago Sun-Times.
- Karakina, p. 31
- "Duc de Richelieu Monument". 2odessa.com. Retrieved 2006-08-02.
- Kononova, p. 48
- Herlihy, p. 21
- Herlihy, p. 140, Quoting Koch, Charles (1855). The Crimea and Odessa: Journal of a tour. London. p. 260.
- Herlihy, p. 140, Quoting Hommaire de Hell, Xavier (1847). Travels in the Steps of the Caspian Sea, the Crimea, the Caucasus, etc. London. p. 10.
- Emery, Mabel Sarah (1901). Russia Through the Stereoscope: A Journey Across the Land of the Czar from Finland to the Black Sea. Underwood & Underwood. p. 210
- Herlihy, p. 140, Quoting Jeese, William (1841). Notes of a Half-Pay in Search of Health: Russia, Circassia, and the Crimea, in 1839-1840. 2 vols. London. volume 1, p. 183.
- Herlihy, p. 317, Quoting William Hamm, 1862, p. 95-96.
- Herlihy, p. 317, paraphrasing Shirley Brooks, 185, p. 18.
See also 
- Grigory Potemkin
- Depaldo stone stairs
- FC Chornomorets Odessa
- The Filatov Institute of Eye Diseases & Tissue Therapy
- Odessa Opera Theater
- Seventh-Kilometer Market
- Chornomorets Stadium
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Odessa#Potemkin Stairs|
- Kononova, G. (1984). Odessa: A Guide. Moscow: Raduga Publishers.
- "Potemkin Stairs". 2odessa.com. Retrieved 2006-07-30.