By Mariette Rough, Segway Guide and Döner Connoisseur
The Turkish Connection
Germany has a huge Turkish population, in fact they are the largest ethnic minority in Germany. Comprising of 3 million people of a roughly 83 million German population. Large scale migration of Turkish people to West Germany developed during the 60’s and 70’s. Feeling a serious lack of labour during the economic boom, West Germany invited over Turkish workers to fill in the deficit. The jobs on offer were usually on the more menial side; mostly factory and construction work. Turkish citizens very quickly became the predominant group of ‘Gastarbeiter’ (Guest Workers), alongside their Italian/Spanish/Greek/Yugoslav counterparts. At first it was assumed this would be a temporary arrangement and these workers would head home after a couple of years, instead many people left Turkey to come and join their families.
Germany and Turkey are geographically pretty close, meaning that cultural ties to their homeland remain particularly strong. Most Turkish people live within two sometimes conflicting cultures. German culture tends to dominate the work place or in schools, whereas leisure practices tend to align more with Turkish culture. The Turkish language is Germany’s main immigrant language. Although many second and third generation Turks speak more colloquially in what is known as ‘Kiezdeutsch’ – essentially a bit more ghetto and grammatically poorer German. Religion-wise Turkish people make to 64% of Germany’s Muslim population. So you may well encounter a couple of Mosques as you wander around Berlin.
Turkish culture has well and truly seeped into Germany’s veins; starting with the ubiquitous Döner. Mustafas will probably be host to the longest queue you ever see for a street kiosk Döner, but that really says it all.
Mustafas Kebap House
I never thought I would type these words but you have to go onto their Kebab website. I seriously just spent 10 enjoyable minutes clicking around on there. In fact the whole office got involved.
Mehringdamm.32 (Mehringdamm U-Bahn)
Eating a kebab on the side of the road not your thing? Then head to one of the most famous Turkish restaurants in the city – Hasir.
There are currently 6 locations around Berlin. The original and probably most authentic in terms of being situated right in the heart of the Turkish district is on Adalbertstr. 10-12. The chain is owned by five brothers and their many children, although in the beginning they just had a small Grill-Restaurant in Kreuzberg. Expect skewers of meat and vegetables and lots of local Turkish-Germans having their dinner.
Another element of Turkish culture that’s very popular here in Berlin are Turkish Bath Houses.
My personal favourite Hamam is located in a former chocolate factory. You go in, get naked and then sit around with friends or on your lonesome, scrubbing yourself and quite literally pouring water over yourself. Massages and scrubs are also available, if you don’t feel like doing it yourself. The day I went was ‘take your kid to a Hamam day’, which was pretty cute. This particular Hamam is women only, but there are many Bath Houses for men in Berlin. Your skin will thank you!
Website: Hamam Berlin
Finally we have the most talked about and visited market in the city…
Turkish Markets at Maybachufer
Located right next to Maybachufer, one of the most revered canals in the city. The market offers incredibly cheap fruit, veg and fabric. As well as having fresh food cooked on the spot, they sell a variety of olives and Mediterranean dips to take home. The market takes place every Tuesday and Friday, between 11am and 6.30pm. There is some serious people watching to be had here, so enjoy.
Website: Turkish Market