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.
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.)
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.
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
Taksim Gezi Park is a small green island in the midst of concrete. In 2013, the city municipality started to demolish the park to add further shopping venues. Thousands of people rallied in the Occupy Taksim movement, to stop the demolition of the park. Instead of engaging in a dialog with the opposition, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government is currently having the Police use physical force and pepper gas on protesters in order to keep the demolition in progress.
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 funicular line connecting the Taksim Metro station with the Kabataş tramway station and Seabus port was opened, allowing riders to ascend to Taksim in just 110 seconds.
Demonstrations and incidents
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.
- On February 16, 1969, some 150 leftist demonstrators were injured during clashes with right wing groups in what is known as "Bloody Sunday".
- In the events known as the Taksim Square massacre, thirty-six left-wing demonstrators were killed by unidentified and allegedly right-wing gunmen on the square during the Labour Day demonstrations of May 1, 1977.
- Taksim Square was the location of football riots in 2000 when two Leeds United fans were stabbed to death during clashes with Galatasaray fans, the night before the 1999-2000 UEFA Cup semi-final first leg match between the two teams.
- On October 31, 2010, a suicide bomb went off next to a police bus. The bomber, a Kurdish terrorist, died, while 15 police officers and 17 civilians were injured.
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.
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. 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.
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.
- Atatürk Cultural Center
- Taksim Gezi Park
- Istanbul Metro
- İstiklal Avenue
- Monument of the Republic
- Taksim Military Barracks
- Taksim Stadium
Notes and references
- WowTurkey.com: Taksim Artillery Barracks (later Taksim Stadium)
- "Police disperse protesters with pepper spray to continue partial demolition of Gezi Park". Today's Zaman. 2013-05-28. Retrieved 2013-06-01.
- Taksim-Kabataş funicular subway connection
- "Suicide blast hits Istanbul". Al Jazeera. 31 October 2010. Retrieved 31 October 2010.
- Gay Pride in Istanbul – The LGBTT Parade Hits Taksim Square! - Turkey - WorldNomads.com. Journals.worldnomads.com. Retrieved on 2013-08-12.
- "Taksim park protests in 4th day amid police crackdown". Hurriyet Daily News. 31 May 2013. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
- The Guardian: Istanbul park protests sow the seeds of a Turkish spring
- New York Times: Peaceful Protest Over Istanbul Park Turns Violent as Police Crack Down
- zeit.de: Eine Ahnung von Tahrir in Istanbul. - Premier Erdoğan lässt Proteste gegen Baumfällungen niederknüppeln. Er agiert mehr und mehr wie ein Despot, die Türken begehren auf. (translated: an idea of Tahrir square. - PM Erdoğan bludgeons down protests against tree felling. He acts more and more like a despot; Turks rebel)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Taksim Square.|
- Images of Taksim Square
- 2006 New Year Celebrations at Taksim Square
- Hotels in Taksim Square
- Streaming Live from Gezi Park Protest