Taksim Square (Taksim Meydanı), situated in Beyoğlu in the European part of Istanbul, Turkey, is a major tourist and leisure district famed for its restaurants, shops, and hotels. It is considered the heart of modern Istanbul, with the central station of the Istanbul Metro network.
Taksim Square is also the location of the Republic Monument (Turkish: Cumhuriyet Anıtı), which was crafted by Pietro Canonica and inaugurated in 1928. The monument commemorates the 5th anniversary of the foundation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, following the Turkish War of Independence.
History of Taksim Square
The word Taksim means “division” or “distribution” in Arabic.
Taksim Square was originally the point where the main water lines from the north of Istanbul were collected and branched off to other parts of the city (hence the name). This use for the area was established by Sultan Mahmud I. The square takes its name from the Ottoman-era stone reservoir, which is located in this area.
Another significant building that once stood on the square was the 19th century Taksim Artillery Barracks (Taksim Kışlası, which later became the Taksim Stadium). Still, it was demolished in 1940 during the construction works following the plans of French architect and city planner Henri Prost for Taksim Square and Taksim Gezi Park.
Taksim Gezi Park is a small green park amid the concrete expanse of central Istanbul.
In 2013, the city municipality, wanting to demolish the park to add different shopping venues, began forcefully removing protesters who had set up camp in the park.
After news spread of the police brutality, thousands of people rallied in the Occupy Taksim movement to stop the park’s demolition.
As the current status of the demolition project is in limbo, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has the Police stationed in and around Taksim Square ready with riot control equipment to deter any large demonstrations.
Present day of Taksim Square
Taksim is the central transportation hub and a popular destination for both tourists and residents of Istanbul.
İstiklal Caddesi (Independence Avenue), along the pedestrian shopping street, ends at this square, and a nostalgic tram runs from the square along the avenue, ending near the Tünel (1875), which is the world’s second-oldest subway line after London’s Underground (1863).
In addition to serving as the main transfer point for the municipal bus system, Taksim Square is also the terminus of the Hacıosman-4.Levent-Taksim-Yenikapı subway line of the Istanbul Metro.
Taksim’s position was given an extra boost on June 29, 2006, when the new Kabataş-Taksim Funicular line F1 connecting the Taksim Metro station with the Kabataş tramway station and Seabus port was opened, allowing people to ascend to Taksim in just 110 seconds.
Surrounding Taksim Square are numerous travel agencies, hotels, restaurants, pubs, and international fast-food chains such as Pizza Hut, McDonald’s, Subway, and Burger King.
It is also home to some of Istanbul’s grandest hotels, including the InterContinental, the Ritz-Carlton, and The Marmara Hotels.
Taksim is also a favorite location for public events such as parades, New Year celebrations, or other social gatherings.
Atatürk Cultural Center (Atatürk Kültür Merkezi), a multi-purpose cultural center and opera house, is also located at Taksim Square.
Across on the opposite side sits the long-awaited Taksim Square Mosque.