Ukrainians wear Turkish clothes, work for Turkish companies, and vacation in Turkey, which is easy because the country offers Ukrainians a no-hassle visa regime. Meanwhile, there’s a growing Turkish Diaspora community in Kyiv. And yet, most city residents have no idea the place is filled with places of Turkish interest. In the spirit of friendship with Ukraine’s great fellow Black Sea power, What’s On decided to track a bunch of them down.
The Mosque at 46 Lukyanivska
Most Turks are Muslims, but not even all the Turks in Kyiv know that there’s a mosque in the city, at 46 Lukyanivska. There’s also a Muslim cemetery on Shekavytsya Hill. Generations ago, a Tatar population clustered near Myrna Street, with a small market and a mosque located in a wooden house. Time passed, and that community vanished, but in 1998 Muslims built the sizeable Ar-Rahma Mosque (the name translates as ‘Mercy’) near the cemetery. You can get a good view of it from Glubochutska Street. In 2000 the half-moon cupola appeared atop it, and it opened its doors to parishioners. The Administration of Muslims of Ukraine is responsible for the mosque and is planning to build a big Islamic complex in the futureFigures differ, but there are anywhere from 800,000 to 2 million Muslims in Ukraine. Most of them are working or studying here, or are from the Caucasus or the Crimea.
The Karaite Kenassa on 7 Yaroslaviv Val
Another object in Kyiv with a link to Turkey is the Karaite Kenassa. In the Middle Ages, Istanbul was one of the main centers of the Karaites, an ethnically Turkic sect who professed Judaism. In the nineteenth century there were more than 3000 Karaites in Turkey, making them the largest such community in the world. Today they are very few –elderly people of Turkish extraction scattered here and there. The first Karaites appeared on Ukrainian territory in the twelfth century - immediately after the Mongols took Crimea. There’s even a kenassa, or Karaite temple, here in Kyiv, just like in Istanbul. It’s at 7 Yaroslaviv Val, in the building that the Actors House now occupies. In the late Soviet era, the ‘Zorya’ cinema was located there. It was built at the end of the nineteenth century by the Kyiv architect Vladislav Horodetsky, who built the famous House of the Chimeras.
The Turets Stream in Podil
The Turets Stream was an influx of the Glubochytsya River, which was swallowed up by the Dnipro and ceased to exist after changes to the Podil cityscape at the beginning of the nineteenth century. The word ‘turets’ has a Turkish origin, and translates as ‘source’ or ‘life’. The first mention of the Turets Stream appears in a document from 1764. The name lives on in Podil’s Turivska Street.
The so-called ‘Turkish Town’ is a community located between Solomenka, Cadet Guy and Ivana Pyluya, in the Chokolivka area. It consists of ten sixteen-storey houses built in 1993-96 to provide good housing for former Soviet serviceman returning from what was East Germany. The development ended up full of professional people in addition to soldiers. Why ‘Turkish Town’? Because it was built by Turkish workers.
One of the most affordable Turkish spots is ‘Gourmet’, the canteen where you can find Turkish food and lots of Turkish natives eating it
The Turkish Embassy is located at 18 Arsenalna Street, parallel with Lesya Ukrainka Boulevard and hidden from the noise of the city in a Pechersk courtyard. This will be your main base in Kyiv if you want to visit the great (and sunny) civilisation across the Black Sea. Ukrainians have no problem getting a visa: there’s no application, you just need to pay $10 for consular fees. The embassy accepts visitors from 10:00 till 12:30 daily. The phone number is 284-9915.
Turkish Food at 12 Chervonoarmiyska (Lva Tolstogo metro station)
After coming back from Turkey, most Ukrainians miss Turkish food and hospitality, and Turkish clothes. As far as the food and hospitality go, it’s luckily becoming popular to open Turkish restaurants here, and not only for Turkish students (like the ‘Bodrum’ eatery on the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute campus) but for everybody. One of the best-known is ‘Gourmet’, the canteen where you can find Turkish food and lots of Turkish natives eating it. Not far from the restaurant is a Turkish clothes mart called Leke Jeans, featuring loud Turkish music and cheap but very cool dresses and jeans, just like you find in a Turkish market.