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Turkish people in Moscow

Turkish people in Moscow

Despite a long relationship between Russia and Turkey, very little is known about Moscow’s Turkish community. This is probably due to language and religious barriers and the paucity of Turks residing in Moscow on a permanent basis, since most Turkish people come to Moscow on a temporary work visa. The Turkish culture is, however, well represented in the Museum of Oriental ArtRussian: Muzey Vostoka or Музей Востока and the Kremlin ArmouryRussian: Oruzheynaya palata or Оружейная палата. Many Turkish people are regular visitors to the Moscow Cathedral MosqueRussian: Moskovskaya sobornaya mechet' or Московская соборная мечеть and some other local mosques. There are also Turkish restaurants owned and managed by Turkish people who keep national and religious traditions alive. Some of these are located in popular tourist areas, such as ZamoskvorechyeRussian: Замоскворечье, Stary ArbatRussian: Staryi Arbat or Старый Арбат and MaroseykaRussian: Маросейка Streets.

Relations between the two major Eurasian cultures have improved lately, as evidenced by the huge three-day Turkish FestivalRussian: Festival Turtsii or Фестиваль Турции held in the Krasnaya Presnya ParkRussian: парк Красная Пресня in the summer of 2017. The festival was organized by the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism in collaboration with the Turkish Embassy in Russia. Moreover, the Turkish diaspora was registered in the Russian Federation in 2017. This public organization’s official name is the ‘Turkish CommunityRussian: Turetskoe soobschestvo or Турецкое сообщество’.

Turkish motifs

Gifts from the ambassadors of the Ottoman Imperial House began flowing into the Russian treasury back in the 16th and 17th centuries, when diplomatic and trade relations between the Russian and Ottoman Empires were being established. Some of these gifts became the basis of fascinating collections now on display in Moscow Kremlin museums. Many high-quality objects made by Turkish artisans are stored in the Moscow Armoury and the Diamond FundRussian: Almaznyi fond or Алмазный фонд, including helms and military equipment, swords, sabres, battle axes and hammers encrusted with gold, jewels and hammered coating, as well as lavish horse harnesses. Particularly impressive are the gold satin ceremonial clothes of Patriarch Nikonrenowned for introducing many reforms which eventually led to a lasting schism known as Raskol in the Russian Orthodox Church of Moscow and of Metropolitan Dionysiuswas Metropolitan of Moscow and all Russia between 1581 and 1587, a set of gold cufflinks that belonged to Tsar Ivan V of Russia, and the orb and rod of Tsar Alexis Ithe tsar of Russia from 1645 until his death in 1676. The Turkish section of the permanent exhibition at the State Museum of Oriental ArtRussian: Gosudarstvennyi muzey iskusstva narodov Vostoka or Государственный музей искусства народов Востока (1A, Nikitsky BoulevardRussian: Nikitskiy bulvar or Никитский бульвар), displaying magnificent Turkish carpets, fabrics, embroidery and traditional costumes (16th to 18th centuries) is particularly popular with visitors to the museum. Of special interest are fabrics with large, brightly coloured patterns with intertwining gold and silver. The Museum of Oriental Art also holds exhibitions of modern Turkish art. For example, in 2017 the museum exhibited the collection of Muhsin Bilge, a well-known Turkish patron of arts and owner of numerous works by artists who marked the beginning of modern Turkish painting.

The Pushkin State Museum of Fine ArtsRussian: Gosudarstvennyi muzey izobrazitelnykh iskusstv imeni A.S. Pushkina or Государственный музей изобразительных искусств имени А.С. Пушкина (12, VolkhonkaRussian: Волхонка Street) also holds exciting temporary exhibitions of Turkish art. The Tsaritsyno Museum ReserveRussian: Muzey-zapovednik «Tsaritsyno» or Музей-заповедник «Царицыно» (1, DolskayaRussian: Дольская Street) has lately focused on exhibitions and events related to Turkey. This former residence of Empress Catherine the GreatEmpress of Russia from 1762 until 1796, the country's longest-ruling female leader and its most renowned is believed to have been built in the so-called Turkish Gothic style, with its red walls, columns, pointed windows and arches and saw-edged cornices. Back in the 18th century, Russians had limited knowledge of Turkish architecture and Tsaritsyno is a fine sample of the 18th-century Russian interpretation of Turkish architectural traditions. This lavish palace and park once had Turkish pavilions with brightly coloured carpets, sofas and pillows. Some surviving examples of Russian turquerie, or Turkish fashion, are the Ruin TowerRussian: bashnya-ruina or башня-руина, the Grape Gate ArchRussian: arka «Vinogradnye vorota» or арка «Виноградные ворота», built in 1776 to commemorate the Russian victory in the Russo-Turkish War of 1768-1774, and various other structures.

As early as the mid-16th century, wealthy Russians were very fond of Turkish products, such as fruit, spices, perfumes, fabrics, carpets, weapons and jewelry. Today, Turkey is a leading exporter of vegetables and fruit and a major supplier of clothing and other consumer goods to Russia. EnkaRussian: Энка is a major Turkish company in the Russian construction industry and is the former owner of an extensive network of RamstorRussian: Рамстор supermarkets (headquartered at 2/2, Paveletskaya SquareRussian: Paveletskaya ploschad or Павелецкая площадь). Enka’s high-quality and large-scale construction projects are well known in Russia.

Close links with Russia

The Embassy of Turkey in RussiaRussian: Posolstvo Turtsii v Rossii or Посольство Турции в России is located in the historical KhamovnikiRussian: Хамовники District (12, 7th Rostovsky LaneRussian: 7-y Rostovskiy pereulok or 7-й Ростовский переулок). Many changes have occurred in Moscow’s Turkish community over the past years. Improved diplomatic relations between Russia and Turkey have led to the establishment of the Association of Turkish BusinessmenRussian: Soyuz turetskikh biznesmenov or Союз турецких бизнесменов. One of the leaders of the Turkish community in Moscow is Yusuf Şen, president of the Socio-Cultural Center for the Support and Wellness of Turkish StudentsRussian: Sotsialno-kulturnyi tsentr sodeystviya i podderzhki turetskikh studentov or Социально-культурный центр содействия и поддержки турецких студентов, an autonomous non-commercial organization located at 16/21, YeniseyskayaRussian: Енисейская Street). The officially registered Turkish Community is also headed by Yusuf Şen.

Moscow’s Turkish community is estimated to number between 25,000 to 30,000 people, including approximately one thousand university students. Despite their small numbers, Turkish students are very active in establishing relationships with their Russian counterparts. They are engaged in publishing booklets, leaflets and reference books on Turkey (including those for the visually impaired), they help Russians learn Turkish and also participate in events held by the Russian-Turkish Educational and Research CentreRussian: Rossiysko-turetskiy uchebno-nauchnyi tsentr or Российско-турецкий учебно-научный центр (6/3, Miusskaya SquareRussian: Miusskaya ploschad or Миусская площадь) at the Russian State University for the HumanitiesRussian: Rossiyskiy gosudarstvennyi gumanitarnyi universitet or Российский государственный гуманитарный университет. This centre offers Turkish language, culture and history courses, hosts concerts and other cultural events and organizes field trips and excursions.

Turkish language courses are also available at the Turkey Trade OfficeRussian: Torgovoe predstavitelstvo Turtsii or Торговое представительство Турции (12, 7th Rostovsky LaneRussian: 7-y Rostovskiy pereulok or 7-й Ростовский переулок), the Culture and Tourism Office of the Embassy of Turkey Russian: Ofis po kulture i turizmu Posolstva Turtsii or Офис по культуре и туризму Посольства Турции(23, 1st Tverskaya-YamskayaRussian: 1-ya Tverskaya-Yamskaya or 1-я Тверская-Ямская Street), the Ankara University International TÖMER Centre (5/1, 2nd Vrazhsky LaneRussian: 2-y Vrazhskiy pereulok or 2-й Вражский переулок) and the Central Muslim Administration OfficeRussian: Rezidentsiya Tsentralnogo dukhovnogo upravleniya musulman or Резиденция Центрального духовного управления мусульман (5/2, 1st Krutitsky LaneRussian: 1-y Krutitskiy pereulok or 1-й Крутицкий переулок).

Religious values

Moscow’s mosques are, undoubtedly, very popular places for the Turkish community to gather. This is particularly true of the Moscow Cathedral Mosque (7, Vypolzov LaneRussian: Vypolzov pereulok or Выползов переулок), built in 2015 – this is one of Europe’s largest mosques. Turkish sponsors and construction companies were directly involved in the construction of this giant mosque, which boasts a 46-meter-high dome. The mosque’s dome and mihrab were painted by Turkish artists working under the supervision of the celebrated calligrapher imam Husseyin Kutlu, and the interior design was created in the Nakkaş Centre affiliated with Turkey’s Ministry of Religious Affairs. Russian and Turkish presidents attended the inauguration ceremony of the mosque, along with numerous delegations from other countries.

Local Turkish people have a highly reverential attitude towards the Memorial Mosque on Poklonnaya HillRussian: Memorialnaya mechet na Poklonnoy gore or Мемориальная мечеть на Поклонной горе (2B, MinskayaRussian: Минская Street) that was built in commemoration of the Muslims who died in World War II. Over 40,000 Meskhetian Turkish people fought in that war, and 26,000 of them never returned home. Eight became heroes of the Soviet Union and three became Full Cavaliers of the Order of Glorya military decoration of the Soviet Union established by Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet. Religious services at the Memorial Mosque are attended, among other cultures, by the Turkish people. They are conducted in both Russian and Arabic.

Moscow historical mosqueThe Sunnite YardiamRussian: Ярдям and the Shia InamRussian: Инам Mosques, located in Moscow’s OtradnoyeRussian: Отрадное District, can accommodate up to 3,000 people. Another multi-religious complex consisting of a Buddhist stupa, a synagogue, two mosques and an Orthodox church is located at 8, Khachaturyana StreetRussian: ulitsa Khachaturyana or улица Хачатуряна.

Moscow’s oldest Historical Mosque Russian: Istoricheskaya mechet or Историческая мечетьis located at 28, Bolshaya Tatarskaya Street Russian: Bolshaya Tatarskaya ulitsa or Большая Татарская улицаin the centre of the former Tatar community. Built at the turn of the 18th century, it was later reconstructed, then destroyed and, finally, closed. Religious services resumed in 1993. Today, the Historical Mosque is venerated by both Turkish and Tatar worshippers as well as people of other faiths.

Taste of Turkey

Many Russian travelers to Turkey have fallen in love with the pastries, beverages and national dishes of this hospitable country. Turkish coffee and tea, baklava, guvech, kebab, pide and other delicacies remind them of the sea and the sun. Unfortunately, there are less Turkish markets in Moscow than there have been before, as they have been replaced with specialized sections in supermarkets and online stores. Highly popular among foodies is Seçkin BaklavaRussian: Сечкин Баклава (16, Bolshoy Ovchinnikovsky LaneRussian: Bolshoy Ovchinnikovskiy pereulok or Большой Овчинниковский переулок), located in ArcadiaRussian: Аркадия, a shopping centre owned by Turkish people. This store is also a café and visitors can both buy premium-class coffee, tea and pastries or just sample them on the spot. The Arcadia Shopping Centre also features ShykydymRussian: Шыкыдым, one of Moscow’s best Turkish restaurants, and Kebab HouseRussian: Кебаб Хаус, a fast food café serving up reasonably priced dishes. Shykydym specializes in rural Turkish dishes, which are hearty and nourishing. There is a permanent menu and daily specials. The restaurant serves traditional Turkish breakfast from 11am to 2pm: ayran, cheeses, fresh juices, eggs, sausages and baked goods. Prices for this delicious breakfast range from 500 to 700 RUB.

The interior of the Bosphorus restaurantTurkish restaurants and cafés truly communicate the heart and soul of Turkish culture. Chefs and waiters in these restaurants are usually from Turkey and certain rules – for instance, those regarding halal foods – and particularities of the Islamic religion are strictly observed. Turkish people and Muslim people in general often come to these restaurants, but observers of other cultures and religions are equally welcome.

At 47/23, ArbatRussian: Арбат Street is BosforRussian: Босфор, a Turkish restaurant serving up exquisite vegetable appetizers, traditional meat dishes and soups, grilled fish, national beverages, yoghurts and desserts. This quiet restaurant is ideal for family or business lunches in the afternoon and for get-togethers with friends in the evening. A summer veranda is also available. Despite the restaurant’s central location, prices are reasonable.

Another location highly popular with foodies is BardakRussian: Бардак (6/8, Maroseyka Street), a cozy café serving mostly Turkish dishes, such as köfte (beef meatballs) or hot pide (flatbread). Smiling waiters wear shirts with funny inscriptions, Gavaryu paruski (meaning ‘I speak Russian’ in broken Russian). During the day, Bardak offers good discounts. The average bill is approximately 500 RUB.

Some Muscovites find the true spirit of Turkey in OdzhakbashiRussian: Оджакбаши, a restaurant located near the Garden RingRussian: Sadovoe koltso or Садовое кольцо at 10/2, Kozhevnicheskaya Russian: КожевническаяStreet. A short distance from it is the headquarters of Enka, a major Turkish construction company, and it was the Turkish ambassador himself who cut the ribbon at the grand opening of the restaurant. A calm, intimate atmosphere prevails in Odzhakbashi, which is located in a basement. The rich and varied menu is available in two languages, waiters are attentive, portion sizes are large and the tea is delicious. The average bill is 1,000 to 1,500 RUB.

SofraRussian: Софра (12, MeshchanskayaRussian: Мещанская Street) is yet another modest restaurant serving up mostly Turkish dishes. This simple but nice location is ideal for lunches, but any visitor – especially those with kids – should consider visiting this place. The menu offers a wide variety of dishes, huge servings and reasonable prices, going hand in hand with friendly serving staff. The average bill is 800 to 1,000 RUB.

Turkish baths

Other locations associated with the Turkish culture are the world-famous Turkish baths. This cultural phenomenon encompasses far more than just hygiene and health care. A Turkish bath is a club, a sanctuary of health and beauty, a place of socializing with like-minded people and of spiritual revival.

The Turkish baths are quite gentle, and don’t, like some intense steam-houses, impact on the cardiovascular system. All bathing practices in the Turkish hammam – from the steam room to traditional spa procedures – aim to relax and cleanse the body whilst being as relaxing an experience as possible. Socialisation over a cup of tea is also a must in any Turkish bathing experience.

Many public baths in Moscow have Turkish bath rooms. There are some forty Turkish baths in Moscow, catering to every budget. One of the best is Laguna SPARussian: Лагуна СПА, a health complex (14, Kolodezny LaneRussian: Kolodeznyi pereulok or Колодезный переулок) with the Oriental HallRussian: Vostochnyi zal or Восточный зал fulfilling all requirements of a traditional Turkish bath. Prices for a one-hour visit to this hammam range from 1,800 to 2,600 RUB. Rimskiye TermyRussian: Rimskie termy or Римские термы (20, Fridrikha Engelsa StreetRussian: ulitsa Fridrikha Engelsa or улица Фридриха Энгельса) is yet another good and relatively inexpensive Turkish bath that offers visitors additional bathing services, such as massage or Turkish exfoliation, a banquet hall, karaoke and a mini cinema. Prices vary from 1,500 to 3,500 RUB.

The elite club AmsterdamRussian: Амстердам (5/3, Bersenevsky LaneRussian: Bersenevskiy pereulok or Берсеневский переулок) has a lavish and pricey Turkish-style bath, including a steam room, a pool and a hall. This VIP hammam is intended for group visits and offers its clients a wide variety of entertainment. The price for a one-hour visit is 5,000 RUB.

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