Taksim Square

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Taksim Square before the renovation on September 2013
The Monument of the Republic (1928) on Taksim Square, crafted by Italian sculptor Pietro Canonica.
Atatürk Cultural Center on Taksim Square, with the entrance of the Taksim station of the Istanbul Metro.
View of Taksim Park (Taksim Gezi Parkı) and Levent financial district as seen from the roof bar of the Marmara Hotel on Taksim Square.
Istanbul Pride parade in 2011, Taksim Square, Istanbul.

Taksim Square (Turkish: Taksim Meydanı), situated 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 Monument of the Republic (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[edit]

The word Taksim means "division" or "distribution". The 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. Additionally, the word "Taksim" can refer to a special improvisational musical form in Turkish classical music that is guided by the Makam system. Another significant building that once stood on the square was the 19th century Taksim Artillery Barracks (Taksim Topçu Kışlası, which later became the Taksim Stadium), but it was demolished in 1940 during the construction works of the Taksim Park (Taksim Gezi Parkı.)[1]

Today[edit]

Taksim is a main transportation hub and a popular destination for both tourists and the native population of Istanbul. İstiklal Caddesi (Independence Avenue), a long 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). 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 Hotel.

Taksim is also a favourite 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.

NTV television had its morning news studio on Taksim Square for a number of broadcasting seasons, before moving to its new studio in 2011.

Taksim Gezi Park[edit]

Taksim Gezi Park is a small green park in the midst of the concrete expanse of central Istanbul. In 2013, the city municipality, wanting to demolish the park to add further 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 demolition of the park. 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.[2]

Transportation[edit]

Taksim Square is an important hub for public transport in Istanbul. 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. The İstiklal Avenue-Tünel nostalgic tram line also starts in Taksim.

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.[3]

Demonstrations and incidents[edit]

The square has been an important venue for political protests during much of its existence. Groups from all sides of the political spectrum in Turkey, as well as many NGOs, try to demonstrate in this square in order to use its visibility for the benefit of their cause.

Following many other violent incidents, all forms of group protests were banned in the square and the police units maintained a round-the-clock presence to prevent any incidents. The ban did not apply to surrounding avenues or streets. Today, Taksim Square is once again the starting point or destination of many political demonstrations; moreover, mass meetings on Labour Day were permitted for the first time in 2010 and have been taking place peacefully ever since. However, gatherings for events such as New Year's Eve, Republic Day celebrations, or mass-screenings of important football matches are excluded from the ban. The annual Istanbul Pride takes place on the square as well.[5]

2013[edit]

Since May 26, 2013, protests have been taking place in Taksim in opposition to the reconstruction of the Ottoman era Taksim Military Barracks (demolished in 1940 for building the Gezi Park) and a shopping center on the land plot of the Gezi Park.[6] In the early morning of May 31, the Police forces moved in on the demonstrators and people sleeping in tents, and attacked them with tear gas, pepperspray and water cannons.[7][8]

The demonstrators also criticized Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has held office for more than ten years, for his uncompromising stance on this controversial issue and for the Turkish police's excessive use of force against the demonstrators.[9]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°02′13″N 28°59′09″E / 41.03694°N 28.98583°E / 41.03694; 28.98583