Top 5 Places to Experience Turkish Culture in Berlin
Kreuzberg, Berlin. Photo by VisitBerlin via Flickr Creative Commons.
Berlin’s cultural mix is dominated by the Turkish community. They helped rebuild the country, produced several famed football players, millionaires, artists and politicians, as well a mouthwatering cuisine. With over 2.6 million Turks in Germany and 170,000 in Berlin, they are by far the largest ethnic minority in the country. Due to the labor shortage after the Second World War, the “guest-worker” program, beginning in the 1950s and lasting from the 1960s to the 1970s, offered people from Anatolia, Turkey to take part in West Germany’s “economic miracle” and help reconstruct the nation. Due to the harsh work conditions, long hours and separation from family, these migrant workers were allowed to invite their loved ones. Many chose to settle permanently in the country with hopes of providing a better future for their children.
Though dominant in numbers, Berlin’s Turkish diaspora face several complex challenges, such as: racism, stereotypes, identity issues, poverty, unemployment. Many Turkish-Germans feel the strain of living between two very different worlds– their ancestral heritage and their adopted country. The burden of financial hardship, political apathy and integration problems has resulted in a “Catch-22,” wherein many young Turks have rebelled through gang-related activity.
However, the future for the city’s Turkish society is beginning to take a positive turn. The new generation German-Turks, such as famed director Fatih Akin and rapper Kool Savas, are bringing to light the many issues faced by foreign settlers.
The catastrophic events of 9/11 in New York has pushed Germany’s Muslims further unto the fringes of society. Controversy regarding religious fundamentalism and conflict between Islamic (Sharia) and German Laws is rampant. Though there are still cases of antagonism from both sides, Berlin is considered one of the more liberal cities and upholds a greater acceptance for an array of beliefs and practices.
The nation has 77 Mosques and over 2,200 prayer centers in the city that are the spiritual home to the 160,000 followers of Islam. Berlin’s first Grand Mosque on Columbiadamm, has been a relief for many Muslims who mostly practiced their faith in hidden Mosques or in their homes.
The southeastern section of Kreuzberg, known as “SO36,” is considered as Berlin’s version of “Little Istanbul.” Wedding, Neukolln, Schoeneberg and Moabit are also known for being home to a large number of immigrants. However, Kreuzberg trumps all other districts in terms of being the non-conformist centre of the city and hosting an array of artistic, multi-cultural folk, with strong left-wing political statements.
Remnants of their ethnic homeland is present throughout the area, from the outdoor markets, corner shops decorated with posters of Turkish pop stars and a plethora of kebab food stalls. The electrifying atmosphere of the district is often likened to a European version of the Bronx in New York. Though it is more than just that. This cultural hub will have you bouncing to the sounds of Turkish hip-hop, intrigued with the rhythmic mix of languages, and fascinated by the grafitti-art that covers most of the area.
Top 5 Places to Experience Turkish culture in Berlin
Photograph by Noema Pérez via Flickr Creative Commons
Berlin’s Sehitlik Mosque or Grand Mosque has been the spiritual meeting place for many muslims in the city. Its minarets and regal dome not only makes it a flagship site for believers, but also a visually stunning architectural masterpiece.
Photograph by cosmonautirussi via Flickr Creative Commons
Located near the Grand Mosque on Columbiadamm, the Islamic Cemetary has been in Berlin since 1866. Inaugurated by the German Emperor, you’ll be able to find graves of officials and members of the Ottoman Empire.
Kottbusser Tor or Schonleinstr U-Bahn
Photograph by Neil H via Flickr Creative Commons
Revel in the assortment of great deals and traditional goods , textiles, sweets, fresh fruits and vegetables in the busy Turkish Market. Market is open on Tuesdays and Fridays.
Adalbertstr.10 Berlin, BE, 10999 Tel: +4930 / 614 23 73 Fax: +4930 / 615 07 082
Photograph by Robyn Lee via Flick Creative Commons
Considered as one of the finest Turkish sit-down restaurants in Berlin, it has spawned several other locations throughout the city. The food is sublime, the service fast, and the prices are fair. What more could you ask for?
Kreuzbergstraße / Katzbachstraße Berlin, BE 10965 Germany
Photograph by Karsten Hoffman via Flickr Creative Commons
Viktoriapark is the best place to chill out on a sunny day and experience the multicultural and hippie nature of Kreuzberg. From drum circles to frenetic football games, you’re guaranteed a wonderful afternoon.