Taksim Meydanı

Square in Beyoğlu

Named after the 18th-century stone taksim (water storage unit) on its western side, this square is the symbolic heart of modern İstanbul. Hardly a triumph of urban design, it has recently been closed to traffic and covered in unsightly concrete pavers. The location of the 2013 Gezi protests, the square is closely patrolled by police and is best avoided during demonstrations. A large new mosque was being constructed behind the taksim at the time of research.

The Republic Monument in the centre of the square was created by Italian sculptor Canonica in 1928. It features Atatürk, his assistant and successor, İsmet İnönü, and other revolutionary leaders. Plans to redevelop Gezi Park on the northeast side of the square as a shopping mall were stalled after protests in May and June 2013, and it is unclear whether the development will go ahead. Local activists stand firm in their opposition, citing it as one of many current instances of public space being sold off to private developers without proper public consultation or approval. The site, which has been a park since the early 1940s, was previously occupied by an Ottoman military barracks and is one of the few remaining public green spaces in Beyoğlu.