Loading

Odessa bridges: Mother-in-law’s bridge


Mother-in-law’s bridge is the highest and most modern in Odessa. It was inaugurated for pedestrians on February 16, 1968.


Pedestrian bridge, the highest in Odessa, stretches over the Military Descent. “Mother-in-law” – his urban legendary name. The bridge connects two palaces – the austere and graceful Vorontsovsky Palace on Primorsky Boulevard and the magnificent neo-Gothic Brzozovsky Palace on 3 Gogol Street. The bridge offers a beautiful view of the sea, harbour and city.

The metal structure of the Mother-in-law’s bridge is a work of the 20th century. It was built in 1968 by Muscovites, architect Rachel Vladimirskaya and engineer Kirienko. They wanted to build it for the 50th anniversary of the revolution, but they were late. The bridge was designed and built by order of M. Sinitsa, the first secretary of the regional party committee in Odessa. It is the longest (130 m), highest (30 m) and narrowest bridge in Odessa.

Mother-in-law’s bridge 1976 (left) and 1970 (right)
Photo: Vikna Odessa
Mother-in-law’s bridge 1972 (left) and 1983 (right)
Photo: Vikna Odessa

It is believed that our bridge is a miniature copy of the Grand Duchess Charlotte Bridge in Luxembourg. Indeed, outwardly they are very similar, and since the Luxembourg one was built two years earlier, it is possible that the architect Rachel Vladimirskaya borrowed the idea from his Western European colleagues. Charlotte’s Bridge is three times longer than Mother-in-law and is painted red, for which the locals call it the Rout Breck (Red Bridge). The Odessa bridge, instead, is white.

The first official name of the Mother-in-law Bridge is Komsomolsky. But few people know it. So they were going to call it in Soviet times, because it was Zhvanetsky Boulevard then called Komsomolsky Boulevard. Subsequently, he was named Captain’s. However, in our time, neither one nor the other names appear anywhere.

Legend #1

There is a popular legend about how the bridge got its current name. They say that the aforementioned M. Sinitsa was very fond of his mother-in-law’s pancakes, and his mother-in-law and son-in-law allegedly lived on different boulevards, and his son-in-law did not like to walk the roundabout way across the Sabaneev Bridge. So, Comrade Sinitsa came up with the idea of ​​building an expensive direct pedestrian bridge, which had practically no communication value for the city.

Mother-in-law – “the main driver in the house”

Meanwhile, Sinitsa’s son-in-law, an employee of the Illichivsk port, Vladimir Melnikov, claims that the popular version of the origin of the name does not correspond to the truth: the first secretary went to visit his mother-in-law through the City Garden, because her apartment was in front of the Cathedral.

Be that as it may, in 2005 Melnikov conceived of creating a new Odessa tradition and began publicly celebrating on the bridge the birthday of his mother-in-law, the wife of the first secretary, Anna Petrovna Sinitsa. He even wrote to the Verkhovna Rada, proposing to make this holiday an All-Ukrainian Mother-in-law Day, but the initiative, alas, remained unanswered, and in 2010 Anna Petrovna died at the age of 92. Then the inscription “Mother-in-law is gone” appeared on the bridge. A year later, her birthday was celebrated at Mother-in-law for the last time, and the tradition was interrupted.

Legend #2

Another humorous legend says that men were thrown down from this bridge, tortured by their mother-in-law, hence the name. But no joke, there is information that a high fence on the bridge appeared a few years after its construction, allegedly after the cases of suicide.

And at the bottom, someone sometimes writes phrases for psychotherapy like, “Don’t jump, too shallow!”

Legend #3

If you stand on the bridge for a while, you can see that it vibrates slightly, or, as experts say, “plays”. All because of the structure of the building: entirely of reinforced concrete, without intermediate supports, it is flexibly extended between the two slopes. In fact, it can withstand a crowd of demonstrators or several vehicles weighing up to 8 tons. After construction, it was tested by starting up heavy trucks with sand.

If a strong wind blows, the bridge swings quite noticeably. Pedestrians can also swing it – if several people jump simultaneously on the middle span. Every year, group jumps are arranged at bridge by students of the Physics Department of Odessa University. This usually happens on the night before the Physicist’s Day, which Odessa residents celebrate on April 1.

So, the bridge is swinging, which means it is treacherous, mother-in-law … Or, according to another version, it flutters like mother-in-law’s tongue.

In recent years, it’s start to be trendy to hang locks on the railing of the bridge, symbolizing the permanence of relationships. The newlyweds throw the key into the sea; then no one will “open” and family happiness will be bound by training. From time to time they have to be cut, because they increase the load on the bridge (according to some sources, about 10 thousand locks are hung on the bridge.

On October 21, 2011 at the Mother-in-law’s bridge, on the side of Gogol Street, the grand opening of the installation “Loving Heart” took place – a new landmark donated to the city by the company “KYIVSTAR”. Nikolay and Valentina Bochkov (who had lived together for 50 years) were the first to attach their “happy lock” to the “Heart”and spun in a waltz!