Nestled in the heart of Odesa's Arkadia resort area, Victory Park, formerly known as Lenin Dendropark, stands as a testament to the city's resilience and commitment to green spaces.
This arboretum, with its rich history and diverse flora, has evolved over the years into a cherished oasis for locals and visitors alike.
Victory Park really is a gem of a park. As someone who lives near it, I never get bored visiting or transiting it. That's because there is so much to see and do!
For example, a complete lap around the lake from one end to the other is a great 40 minute cardio walk. Along the way, you can admire the nature, or rest on one of the ergonomic chairs and just take it all in. The lake is really full of life, many kinds of turtles and fish to feed, the ducks and the swans are always entertaining, especially when they have the little ones in tow, in the warmer season of course.
In the winter, there are some small hills which come alive when it snows, every kid and their sled make their ways up and down. During the summer, one of the lake islands has a huge bouncy complex for kids to burn off energy. There is a small children's train you can hire to transport you around the lake, be sure to make a stop at the rope forest where the young ones can enjoy the guided zip line slide across the lake and back.
There are also many playgrounds, and not just for human kiddies. In one of the wooded areas there is a dog training obstacle course your four legged friends can get a workout in. There is also a go-kart track, basketball court and soccer field for friendly get togethers. During the summers, folks like to disappear into the woodier areas for picnics and hibachi BBQs.
If you're hungry or thirsty, on the bridge crossover island there is a concession stand. Near one of the waterfalls there is a lakeside patio cafe, and at all the entrances to the park there are several coffee trucks serving up hot and cool beverages. And if you're really hungry, there is a great family restaurant on the Shevchenko side of the park called Tref Cinema Cafe in a huge round brick building with patios around the backside facing one of the health walk paths. There really is so much to sea and do in this amazing park, it's for you to discover… but let's take a deeper look at it's amazing history.
Origins and Soviet Legacy
Established on April 22nd, 1960, in honor of Vladimir Lenin's 90th birthday, Victory Park was envisioned as a model memorial landscape park – the first of its kind in Ukraine. Soviet guidebooks from 1969 and 1981 highlight the park's significance, emphasizing its unusual layout, artificial grotto, and the distinctive grouping of trees and decorative plants. With ongoing efforts to enhance its beauty, the park continues to be a living testament to its Soviet planning.
The park's history dates back to a time when merchants' dachas adorned the landscape until 1917. Following the revolution, these structures were dismantled, and a period of desolation ensued.
Already in the 1930s, it was planned to build a new zoo on this site. But the project was never realized. At first, the war made its adjustments, and after it, when the cost was calculated, they completely abandoned such an idea, deciding to limit themselves to the improvement of the green zone.
According to the plan of architects M. Sereda and I. Hrybchenkova, the park occupied an area of 55 hectares. It was planned picturesquely: with ribbons of winding paths, open beautiful ponds and a variety of vegetation - this is how it is described in the book "Odesa. Architectural and Construction Sketch".
In the 1970s, a concrete pond was built in the park, which, already in a modified form, today is a system of four artificial lakes. Later they were equipped with fountains. The total length of the reservoirs is 700 meters.
However, neglect in the 1990s led to a period of decline, with ponds devoid of water and the green zone becoming a gathering place for the homeless.
In the 1990s, the park was deserted. The ponds stood without water, and their bottoms resembled a garbage dump. The green zone has become a favorite place of homeless people. In fact, the place turned out to be derelict. Because of the negligent attitude, the flora suffered seriously - many trees and shrubs died.
And only by the 60th anniversary of the Victory (in 2004-2005), the abandoned area was organized and renamed Victory Park (it was originally named in honor of Lenin). There, the bowls of the ponds were repaired, waterproofing of the bottom and walls was created, and finally the "master" was determined - KP "Service Center".
By the 220th anniversary of Odesa, the central alley was also restored, flower beds, new benches and urns were installed. At the same time, a stadium with football and basketball fields, as well as children's and sports grounds with strength training equipment, were opened.
In 2018, the beautification of the northern part of the park began, which the townspeople had previously tried to avoid because the area was in decline. Pedestrian paths, benches, new lawns, outdoor lighting were installed there.
Flora and Fauna
The park boasts a diverse collection of over 500 tree and shrub species, showcasing a rich tapestry of flora, including heat-loving specimens. Notable examples include Ginkgo biloba, Albicia Lankaran, Guadalupe cypress, Deer-horned sumac, Canadian bunduk, leathery sumpia, Siberian fir, Lebanese cedar, barberry, spirea, snowberry, and dogwood. Along Druzhba Avenue, trees were ceremoniously planted by esteemed cosmonauts Valery Bykovsky, Georgy Shonin, and representatives from hero cities.
The park's vibrant ecosystem extends beyond its botanical diversity to include a variety of inhabitants. Turtles, carp, crucian carp, koi, catfish, pike, squirrels, swans, and ducks call the park home, becoming cherished residents that visitors delight in feeding. A particularly enchanting annual event is the arrival of the ducklings, adding a delightful touch to the park's natural allure.
Entertainment and Activities
Victory Park offers a plethora of entertainment options, making it a destination for all ages. Visitors can row or pedal boats on the pond, witness enchanting light shows at the fountain, engage in sports fishing, explore a bird mini-zoo, enjoy trampolines and attractions, experience a zipline/rope park, and partake in winter skating on the frozen pond. The park also hosts festivals, fairs, and features buskers and musicians, enhancing the overall experience.
Access and Transportation
Situated between Arcadia and the city center, Victory Park is easily accessible via Shevchenko Avenue. Trams, trolleybuses, and minibus taxis provide convenient transportation options, making it simple for locals and tourists to reach this green haven.
In the heart of Victory Park, amid the rustling leaves and vibrant blooms, lies a testament to Odesa's resilience and commitment to preserving its natural treasures. As you explore the pathways and enjoy the myriad of activities, Victory Park invites you to rediscover tranquility in the heart of this vibrant city.
How to get to the park
Between Arcadia and the city center, parallel to French Boulevard, there is a busy Shevchenko Avenue. Closer to its end, that is, to April 10 Square, you can turn around and find yourself in the park.
You can get to the park using:
• by tram No. 5;
• by trolleybuses Nos. 5, 7, 9, 13;
• by minibus taxis Nos. 9, 115, 129, 137, 146, 168, 185, 198, 242.