Taksim Square, Istanbul, Turkey

Taksim Square, at the northeastern end of İstiklal Caddesi in Beyoğlu (map), is the heart of modern Istanbul, laid out in the late 1800s near a taksim (branching-point) in the city’s water distribution system. You can still see the Ottoman taksim at the beginning of İstiklal Caddesi, and behind it, a brand-new mosque under construction.

The Independence Monument (İstiklal Anıtı) in the circle at the southern end of the square commemorates the Turkish Republic‘s founder, Kemal Atatürk, in both his roles, as military commander-in-chief and as statesman. Designed by Pietro Canonica, it was erected in 1928, defying the Islamic prohibition of effigies of living beings. (Canonica was also the sculptor of two Atatürk monuments in Ankara, and the equestrian statue of Atatürk in Izmir’s Republic Square.)

The open space to the east was once a reservoir. The Atatürk Cultural Center, dominating the eastern end of the square for half a century, has been demolished.

Taksim Gezi Park, to the north, is what replaced a huge Ottomanartillery barracks, demolished in 1940. On May 28, 2013, a small group of people opposed to the removal of the park’s trees and commercial development of one of Istanbul’s very few open green space, set up camp in the park to protest. More…

Cumhuriyet Caddesi (Republic Avenue) goes north from the square along the west side of Gezi Park to the upscale districts of ElmadağHarbiyeNişantaşı and Şişli.

To the west across Cumhuriyet Caddesi from Taksim Gezi Park was the Ottoman barracks’ parade ground, called the Talimhane. After World War II this large, flat, open area was developed with a grid of streets, and more recently has seen the construction of more than a dozen medium-size 4-star hotels.

The Taksim in Taksim Square, Beyoglu, Istanbul, Turkey
The taksim (branching-point) in the 19th-century water system…

One long block north of the square in Elmadağ are three of the city’s best luxury hotels, the Divan OteliCeylan InterContinental, andHyatt Regency Istanbul. The HiltonIstanbul is a few blocks farther north.

The Marmara Hotel Taksim is right in Taksim Square itself.

İstiklal Caddesi, formerly the Grande Rue de Péra, starts in Taksim Square by the Independence Monument and extends southwestward to Galatasaray Square and Tünel Square.

From Taksim Square, you can walk all the way down İstiklal Caddesi to Tünel Square in a half hour or less; you can ride the Nostalgic Tram; or you can take the Metro to the Şişhane station.

—by Tom Brosnahan


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