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Turkish Square

In Moldavian-Turkish times until the end of XVIII Chernivtsi by its look rather resembled a big village. The huts of town dwellers, scattered among the hills, were surrounded by gardens and orchards, which is why idea of “architectural ensemble” was the least appropriate one for such construction. The then city centre covered a small territory of a slope and lowland in the area of modern streets of Holovna (at its very beginning), Sholom-Aleikhem, A.Barbyus, Petro Sahaidachny, Turetska and adjacent by streets and lanes.

Turetska (Turkish) square is one of the three squares of the then Chernivtsi, which has been preserved until now. In Austrian times it was nameless, but was distinctive by its peculiar “Turkish” names. The Turetskastreet passed here. This ancient name has disappeared from the map of the city only during Soviet time and emerged again at the beginning of the 1990’s. Today, as before, this street runs from south to the square under the Turkish bridge. There is a well near the bridge, which is called Turkish by the Chernivtsi citizens by tradition. There is the Turkish baths near it, which are still attended. All these names are related to the Turkish military garrison that was stationed in Chernivtsi at the beginning of XVIII century. Namely the Turks are attributed by the local legends with building the stone well and solid stone reservoir for water, and the stone bridge over Turetskastreet.

The first link in this chain of “Turkish” names was the Turkish well, which serves the townsmen for several centuries already, and which was repeatedly rebuilt during its lengthy age. Since the Austrian times its spire was crowned by a crescent, granting it exotic “Turkish” look. This was what determined its name, and initially it was called a Household one or a Princely one – from the name of the church, which once stood nearby. In 1793 the well was capitally repaired, and a gendarme post was established nearby, who was to watch that water would be taken only for drinking. For a long time the well was a place where the orthodox Christians celebrated the Baptism. The water from the spring was also taken for Jewish mikvah – ritual basin of the Hebrew.

A romantic legend about the love of Turkish pasha to simple Ukrainian girl is related to the well. Upon meeting her once near the well, where the beauty was taking water, he madly fell in love with her and proposed her to be one of his wives. The proud girl refused him. Then the pasha forbade the townsmen to take water from the well. The next day the girl came to the well, but when the pasha approached her, she threw herself into the well and drowned.

At the junction of P.Sahaidachny and Turetska streets, the wooden church of the Assumption of the Virgin once stood. Built between 1709 and 1716 by Moldavian Prince (thrifty) Nicholas Mavrocordatos, it was called a Household one or a Princely one, and enjoyed major privileges. This church belonged to wooden temples of Bukovina of a house type and was similar to the church of St. Nicholas, which, by the way, is still in its old place today. In contrast to it, the church of the Assumption of the Virgin was in 1876 transferred to the city outskirts – Kalichanka, where it is operational until now.

To the 600-year anniversary of the city, Turetska square was reconstructed. Here the Turkish well was capitally repaired and the water reservoir was restored next to it, on the area from the northern side the fountain was built like the ancient Roman ruins, and on a steep slope near the bridge the flower clock was placed. In the middle of the square a big iron bicycle was left, “forgotten by Gulliver”. Thus the square has obtained exquisite look with antique charm, and has become a favourite place of leisure of Chernivtsi citizens.


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