Taksim Square

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Taksim Square
Public square
View of Taksim Square
FeaturesRepublic Monument, Atatürk Cultural Center, Marmara Hotel, Taksim Square Mosque
LocationBeyoğlu, Istanbul
Coordinates: 41°02′13″N 28°59′09″E / 41.03694°N 28.98583°E / 41.03694; 28.98583Coordinates: 41°02′13″N 28°59′09″E / 41.03694°N 28.98583°E / 41.03694; 28.98583

Taksim Square (Turkish: Taksim Meydanı, IPA: [ˈtaksim ˈmejdanɯ]), 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.

The Square is flanked to the south by The Marmara Hotel, to the east by the Atatürk Cultural Centre, to the north by Gezi Park and to the west by Taksim Mosque. Several major roads converge on the Square: Gümüşsuyu Caddesi, Cumhuriyet Caddesi, Tarlabaşı Bulvarı, İstiklal Caddesi and Sıraselviler Caddesi.

History[edit]

Taksim in the 1880s

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 along one side of the square.

Another significant building that once stood on the square was the 19th century Taksim Artillery Barracks (Taksim Kışlası, which later became the Taksim Stadium), but which was demolished in 1940 during the construction works in accordance with the plans of French architect and city planner Henri Prost for Taksim Square and Taksim Gezi Park.[1]

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 rebuild the old barracks as a shopping venue on the site of the park, 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]

Present day[edit]

The Republic Monument (1928) at Taksim Square, crafted by Italian sculptor Pietro Canonica.

Taksim is a main transportation hub and a popular destination for both tourists and residents 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). 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.[3]

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 Divan, and The Marmara Hotel. Taksim used to be a favourite location for public events such as parades, New Year celebrations, and other social gatherings, although since 2016 permission has rarely been given for such gatherings.

Atatürk Cultural Center (Atatürk Kültür Merkezi), a multi-purpose concert hall and cultural centre reopened after renovation in 2021, is also located in Taksim Square. It faces the Taksim Square Mosque which also opened 2021.[4][5]

Demonstrations and incidents[edit]

The square used to be an important venue for political protests.

Circassians marching to commemorate the Circassian genocide at Taksim Square, 2011.

Following many other violent incidents, all protests and demonstrations were banned and today police units maintain a round-the-clock presence to prevent any incidents. It is many years since either May Day or New Year's Day events were permitted to take place in the square, with much of the surrounding area usually fenced off for the day and the Metro station often closed to prevent people gathering.

Gezi Park protests[edit]

Taksim during the 2013 protests

In 2013, protests took place in Taksim in opposition to the reconstruction of the Ottoman era Taksim Military Barracks (demolished in 1940 to create Gezi Park) and a shopping centere on the site of Gezi Park.[8] In the early morning of May 31, police forces moved in on the demonstrators and people sleeping in tents, and tried to disperse them with tear gas, pepperspray and water cannons.[9][10]

The 2013 Istanbul LGBT Pride at Taksim Square in Istanbul

The demonstrators criticized Prime Minister (now President) Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for his uncompromising stance on this controversial issue and for the Turkish police's excessive use of force against the demonstrators.[11]

The large number of trees in the forests of northern Istanbul that were cut down to provide access to the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge (Third Bosphorus Bridge) and the new Istanbul International Airport[12][13][14][15] (the world's largest airport)[12][14][16] were other factors that triggered the Gezi Park protests. According to official Turkish government data, a total of 2,330,012[17][18] trees have been cut down to make way for the airport and its road connections; while a further 381,096[17][18] trees were cut down to make way for the highways leading to the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge.[18]

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Yok olan İstanbul Taksim Meydanı - Topçu Kışlası yeniden inşa ediliyor!". wowturkey.com.
  2. ^ "Police disperse protesters with pepper spray to continue partial demolition of Gezi Park". Today's Zaman. 2013-05-28. Archived from the original on 2013-06-23. Retrieved 2013-06-01.
  3. ^ Taksim-Kabataş funicular subway connection Archived 2007-05-17 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ SABAH, DAILY (2021-04-19). "Mosque to finally be unveiled in Istanbul's Taksim Square". Daily Sabah. Retrieved 2021-04-19.
  5. ^ Gall, Carlotta (2019-03-22). "In Istanbul, Erdogan Remakes Taksim Square, a Symbol of Secular Turkey". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-04-19.
  6. ^ Associated Press (August 16, 1982). "Armenian Dies Of Self-inflicted Burns". Observer-Reporter. Retrieved 2021-02-14.
  7. ^ "Suicide blast hits Istanbul". Al Jazeera. 31 October 2010. Retrieved 31 October 2010.
  8. ^ "Taksim park protests in 4th day amid police crackdown". Hurriyet Daily News. 31 May 2013. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  9. ^ Seymour, Richard (31 May 2013). "Istanbul park protests sow the seeds of a Turkish spring". The Guardian.
  10. ^ Arango, Tim; Yeginsu, Ceylan (31 May 2013). "Peaceful Protest Over Istanbul Park Turns Violent as Police Crack Down". New York Times.
  11. ^ Thumann, Michael (31 May 2013). "Eine Ahnung von Tahrir in Istanbul" [An Inkling of Tahrir in Istanbul]. Die Zeit (in German).
  12. ^ a b Sharkov, Damien (14 August 2014). "Istanbul's New Erdoğan-Backed Airport to Be Named After... Erdoğan". Newsweek.
  13. ^ "İstanbul's new airport to be named after Erdoğan". Today's Zaman. 13 August 2014. Archived from the original on 18 August 2014.
  14. ^ a b Mezzofiore, Gianluca (14 August 2014). "Erdogan Airport: Istanbul's Super Hub 'to be Named After Turkey's President-Elect'".
  15. ^ "Turkey's largest airport is worthy of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's name, minister says". Hürriyet Daily News.
  16. ^ "Dünyanın en büyük havalimanı İstanbul'a yapılıyor" [The World's Largest Airport is being Built in Istanbul]. Star (in Turkish). 23 January 2013. Retrieved 24 January 2013.
  17. ^ a b "İstanbul'da 2 milyon 700 bin ağaç kesilecek" [2 Million 700 Thousand Trees will be Cut Down in Istanbul]. oda TV (in Turkish). 16 September 2013.
  18. ^ a b c "3. köprü ve 3. havalimanı için 2 milyon 330 bin ağaç kesilecek!" [2.33 Million Trees will be Cut Down for the Third Bridge and the Third Airport!]. T24 (in Turkish). 17 September 2013. Archived from the original on 20 September 2013.

External links[edit]