Just over 200 years ago, at the end of the 18-th century, Empress Catherine II ordered the foundation of a city on the bank of the bay where a Turkish fortress, Khadzhibei, once stood. However, the history of the area goes back many thousands of years.Odessa is perhaps the most unusual city in the world. It contains the seed of perfection. It may be the only town in the world that is so young but has so firmly fixed its place in history. When placed beside the ancient European capitals -Paris, Rome, Prague, Budapest, Moscow - and the most famous cities of the world - Naples, Chicago, Hamburg, St. Petersburg, Jerusalem - Odessa does not look like a poor relative. She just stands and smiles. And her smile is like the smile of the Mona Lisa, just as mysterious and unmistakable among thousands of other smiles.