The ancient Greek city of Olbia was founded by the Greek settlers and is the northernmost ancient Greek settlement on the Black Sea. The city's name literally means "happy" and reflects on the history of the place to a degree. Olbia was a typical antique policy and a democratic slave republic, visited and described by Herodotus, whose evidence greatly helped to revive the pinpoint ancient traditions and principles.
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The city never had a sharp contrast in property - way back in 5 B.C. you wouldn't find any large farms here. However, the city has flourished in late fourth-third century B.C. That's when the major construction works from religious to administrative have begun to rise. Olbia was so prosperous the city could afford to relocate and raise whole districts from dust. At the time, the city's territory has reached the maximum in its history - about 50 hectares. The late fourth century B.C. also marked an important financial reform that allowed Olbia to mint own currency - a golden coin.
Image: coin from Olbia. Circa 330-300 BC. Obverse: Head of Borysthenes left. Reverse: Axe-sceptre and bowcase; monogram in left field.
The city was engaged in many trade relations and had its own fish market that brought additional profit. Unfortunately, all good things come to an end - during the late third-early second century B.C. Olbia was torn in the all-Greek political and economic crisis that marked the beginning of the city's decline. Thracian king of the Getae, Burebista, led a military campaign in 55 B.C. and conquered one Greek city after another. The fate hasn't escaped Olbia, which was left in ruins and forgotten for centuries. In 1926 Olbia was declared a historical reserve and nowadays is managed and protected by the Institute of Archeology of National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.
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The territory of Olbia takes up to 500 hectares and provides an exquisite view of the Black Sea. The historical reserve consists of fortifications and necropolis, as well as Berezan Island. The upper city provides the best insight in the livelihood of the Greek city: here visitors can see the remains of the ancient quarter, temples, dugouts and even the main road. An altar that marks the entrance to the temple of Apollo has been preserved up to this day. Besides, the reserve's territory hosts a museum with various historical artifacts found on the sight.
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There is a cafe in case visitors get hungry. Berezan Island is a part of the reserve as well - it still hides mysteries and numerous historical artifacts like ceramics, weapons, and décor of the former colony. Moreover, the island also served as a fortification for Ukrainian Cossacks against the Crimean Tatars attacks during the 17th century.
Navigating in Olbia: How to Get There and Where to Stay
Many travelers choose to settle in Mykolaiv, as the city provides various accommodation options, and then reach Olbia by bus from the local bus and railway stations. The historical reserve is opened for visiting from May to September. Those who have been here in May recommend taking a couple days off to enjoy the incredible view of the sea and warm steppe. The entrance fee is UAH 25 for adults and UAH 20 for children. Kids of pre-school age do not need a ticket. It's worth noting that photo and video fee is paid separately and makes UAH 70. Olbia reserve also provides excursions 4 times a day except for Monday. The excursion lasts 1 hour and 30 minutes. More details about booking excursion are provided on the reserve's website.
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Photo sources: shutterstock.com, vcoins.com, weloveua.com. All images belong to their rightful authors.
Olbia Historical Reserve on the Black Sea Shore
In the recent years, Kherson alongside with Odesa has become a frequently visited tourist location. However, there's one more spot near the Black Sea that waits to be explored. An often spot of archeological expeditions, Olbia Historical Reserve shows Ukrainian sightseeing from a new angle - after all, the settlement has been one of the most important merchant points of Ancient Greece. Nowadays the unique reserve opens a veil on livelihood and megapolis laws of 6 B.C.