Many people--myself included--sometimes forget how extensive the ancient Hellenic empire was. It wasn't just what is now modern Greece. It extended all the way down to, for example, Ukraine. Today: Odessos.

Odessos (Οδησσος), which is the modern day Odessa, is one of the oldest settlements in Bulgaria. It was found during the last quarter of 6th century BC (about 585–550 BC) by Hellenic immigrants from the Asia Minor city of Miletos. They came upon the site of an earlier settlement by Thracians, which name the ancient immigrants preserved.

During its first two centuries of existence, to about the middle of the 4th century BC, Odessos was an important harbor on the Black sea western coast. Its citizen traded with numerous cities and islands of Hellas and Asia Minor, from where they imported luxurious objects: painted ceramics, gold, marble, as well as amphorae with wine and olive oil, and many similar edible or general use objects. Part of the imported items stayed in the city while another part was exchanged or traded with Thracians from the internal parts of the city’s region with whom the Odessians had excellent relations throughout their stay. In return, the Thracians sold to Odessos grain, meat, wood and other raw materials for the city to export.

Odessos, until this point in time, was a wealthy city but not a large one. Around the middle of the 4th century BC Odessos was fortified with seige walls in the hopes of withstanding the attacks of Phillip II of Macedonia in 339 BC. Their efforts succeeded but Phillip II's son, Alexander III the Great (336–323 BC) conquered the city in 335 BC.

Odessos flourished most during the Hellenistic Age (end of third to first century BC), when the city served as temporary center for the armies of the Thracian heir of Alexander the Great, king Lesmachus (323–280 BC). From the second half of the 4th century BC, Odessos started its own mint house. Local coins were illustrated with the head of city’s chief deities: Appollon and the so-called 'Great God'. Other deities were honored as well: Dionysos, Demeter and various Samothracian deities. During this time, large public buildings like theatres, temples and gymnasia were constructed during the period. Due to the increase of Thracian population in the city a temple for the Thracian God-rider Heros Carabazmos was erected  in second to first century BC, as well as a temple of Artemis Phosphoros.

In 15 AD Odessos became part of the Roman Empire as part of the province Moesia (later Moesia Inferior) and served as its main port. The city remained relatively independant and retained the right to mint its own bronze coins to the middle of the third century AD. Over the coming centuries, the city flourished and remained a major hub of import for marble, gold, precious stones for its jewelry workshops, glass, bronze utensils, luxurious ceramics, wine and other unavailable locally items. Local craftsmen produced ceramic, glass and bronze utensils, lamps, gold and silver jewelry, architectural ornaments. Arts were very popular – theater, music and poetry. Bronze and marble statues were erected. New cults appeared – to the Emperor in Rome, to the health related deities Asclepius and Hyggia, to the eastern god Mithras. Very popular were sports and gladiator fights. Each five years traditional sport and cultural events took place.

Christianity's influence expanded gradually but Odessos preserved the old cults prevailed well until 5th century AD. During that period the city turned into one of the most important commercial centers of early Byzantine Empire. It became the seat of a bishop. By the end of 6th and early 7th century Avar and Slav intrusions depopulated and ruined the lands between the Haemus (Balkan mountains) and the Danube river. Gradually these territories were left to barbarians from the Byzantine officials. Odessos still remained the most solid ground for ancient civilization and traditions and it was one of tha last cities to fall into barbarian hands. In 614 AD its inhabitants left it, the city overrun and ruined by barbarians and left without population for a number of centuries.

In the Middle Ages successive rulers of the Odessan region included various nomadic tribes, the Golden Horde, the Crimean Khanate, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and the Ottoman Empire. During the Russian-Turkish War of 1787–1792, Russian forces took the city for the Russian Empire. In 1819, the city became a free port, a status it retained until 1859. Following the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, during the Ukrainian-Soviet War, the city then known as 'Odessa' became a center of the Odessa Soviet Republic. In 1991, when Ukraine gained its independence from the Soviet Union in the aftermath of its dissolution at the end of the Cold War, Odessa became part of the Ukraine.