It's a place known for wit and humor -- as well as for crime and corruption.
Its location is highly strategic and its symbolism is absolutely vital.
Its fiercely independent residents proudly call it the freest Russian-speaking city in the world.
Odesa is a city and a region that Ukraine's pro-Western authorities absolutely must get right if they are going to be successful. And they've placed it in the hands of one of the former Soviet Union's most colorful and controversial figures.
On this week's Power Vertical Podcast, we discuss former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili's efforts to reform Odesa, and why they are so vital to Ukraine's efforts to become a European state.
Joining me are co-host Mark Galeotti, a professor at New York University, an expert on Russian organized crime, and author of the blog In Moscow's Shadows; Odesa-based blogger and political commentator Nikolai Holmov, author of OdessaTalk; and Salome Asatiani, a correspondent and popular blogger for RFE/RL's Georgian Service.
Also appearing on the podcast is Volodymyr Dubovyk, a professor of International Relations at Odesa's Mechnikov National University.
Listen to or download the podcast above or subscribe to The Power Vertical Podcast on iTunes.