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For the class of Russian warships, see Izmail-class battlecruiser.

Izmail (Template:Lang-uk, translit. Izmayil; Russian and Template:Lang-bg, translit. Izmail; Template:Lang-ro; Template:Lang-tr; also referred to as Ismail; Template:Lang-pl) is a historic city on the Danube river in south-western Ukraine. The city is the administrative center of the Izmail Raion (district) in the Odessa Oblast (province) and the largest Ukrainian port on the Danube. As such, it is a center of the food processing industry and a popular regional tourist destination. It is also a base of the Ukrainian Navy and the Ukrainian Sea Guard units operating on the river. The World Wildlife Fund's Isles of Izmail Regional Landscape Park is located nearby.

The current estimated population is around 85,000, with ethnic Russians forming about 42.7% of that total, 38% being Ukrainians, 10% Bessarabian Bulgarians, and 4.3% Moldovans.


The fortress of Izmail was built by Genoese merchants in the 12th century. It belonged for a short period of time to Wallachia (14th century) - as the territory north of the Danube was one of the possessions of the Basarabs (later the land being named after them, Bessarabia). The town was first mentioned with the name Ismailiye, derived from the name of the Ottoman Grand Vizier Izmail, the adding of initial i being a feature of Ottoman Turkish.

From the end of the 14th century, Izmail was under the rule of Moldavia. In 1484, the Ottoman state conquered the territory, which became from that moment an Ottoman protectorate (under direct rule from 1538). Since the early 16th century it was the main Ottoman fortress in the Budjak region. In 1569 Sultan Selim II settled Izmail with his Nogai subjects, originally from the North Caucasus.

After Russian general Nicholas Repnin took the fortress of Izmail in 1770, it was heavily refortified by the Turks, so as never to be captured again. The Sultan boasted that the fortress was impregnable, but during the Russo-Turkish War of 1787-1792 the Russian Army commander Alexander Suvorov successfully stormed it on December 22, 1790. Ottoman forces inside the fortress had the orders to stand their ground to the end, haughtily declining the Russian ultimatum. The defeat was seen as a catastrophe in the Ottoman Empire, while in Russia it was glorified in the country's first national anthem, Let the thunder of victory sound!.

Suvorov announced the capture of Ismail in 1791 to the Tsarina Catherine in a doggerel couplet, after the assault had been pressed from house to house, room to room, and nearly every Muslim man, woman, and child in the city had been killed in three days of uncontrolled massacre, 40,000 Turks dead, a few hundred taken into captivity. For all his bluffness, Suvorov later told an English traveller that when the massacre was over he went back to his tent and wept.

At the end of the war, Izmail was returned to the Ottoman Empire, but Russian forces took it for the third time on September 14, 1809. After it was ceded to Russia with the rest of Bessarabia by the 1812 Treaty of Bucharest, the town was rebuilt thoroughly. The Intercession Cathedral (1822–36), the churches of Nativity (1823), St. Nicholas (1833) and several others date back to that time. Izmail's oldest building is the small Turkish mosque, erected either in the 15th or 16th centuries, converted into a church in 1810 and currently housing a museum dedicated to the 1790 storm of Izmail.

File:Taking of Izmail.jpg
The 1790 siege of Izmail

After Russia lost the Crimean War, the town returned to the Principality of Moldavia, which soon will become part of the Romanian Principalities. Russia gained control of Izmail again after the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878. With the breakup of the Russian Empire in 1917 and in the aftermath of World War I, the regional council of Bessarabia voted in 1918 to unite the region with Romania, and thus Izmail once again became part of the Kingdom of Romania between 1918 and 1940. This union was recognized by the United Kingdom, France and Italy in the Treaty of Paris (1920), but not by the Soviet Union which had territorial claims over Bessarabia.

In 1940, and again during World War II, it was occupied by the Soviet Red Army and included (August 1940) in the Ukrainian SSR; the region was occupied in 1941-1944 by the Romanian Army participating in Operation Barbarossa. During the Soviet period following World War II, many Russians and Ukrainians migrated to the town, gradually changing its ethnic composition.Template:Citation needed The Izmail Oblast was formed in 1940 and the town remained its administrative centre until the oblast was merged to the Odessa Oblast in 1954. Since August 24, 1991, Izmail has been part of independent Ukraine.



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Before 1920, the population of Izmail was estimated at 37,000. During that time, approximately 11,000 of the population were Jewish, 8,000 Romanians and 6,000 Germans. Additional members of the population were Russians, Bulgarians, Turks and Cossacks.<ref name=Kaba>Template:Cite book</ref>

Notable residences

  • Alexandru Averescu, Romanian Marshal, Army Commander during World War I; Prime Minister (in fact, born near Izmail, in the village of Ozerne)
  • Ioan Chiril?, Romanian writer and sports journalist
  • Galina Chistyakova, Ukrainian athlete, winner of the long jump bronze medal at the 1988 Summer Olympics
  • Leonid Dimov, Romanian poet (1926, Ismail - 1987, Bucharest)
  • Olena Hovorova, Ukrainian athlete, winner of the triple jump bronze medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics
  • Wiktor Kemula, Polish chemist, electrochemist, and polarographist, he developed a hanging mercury drop electrode (HMDE)
  • Vitali Konstantinov, German artist and illustrator
  • Ruslan Maynov, Bulgarian actor and musician
  • Gavril Musicescu, Romanian composer
  • Sergiu Sarchizov, Romanian composer and conductor
  • Sholom Schwartzbard, Jewish anarchist, assassin of Symon Petliura
  • Ivan Shishman, Bulgarian artist
  • Tsarev, Vadim Yuryevich - Russian philosopher, publicist, author of television films, Member of the Union of writers of Russia
  • Artur V?itoianu, Romanian general, Army commander during World War I; Prime Minister



External links

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