Senatus Hotel Istanbul

Taksim Square

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. The location of the 2013 Gezi protests, it is closely patrolled by police and is best avoided during demonstrations.

The Atatürk Cultural Centre on the square’s eastern edge was designed by Hayati Tabanlioğlu in 1956–57 and appears to best advantage at night, when its elegant steel mesh is illuminated. It is currently closed for restoration.

The Republic Monument in the centre of the square was created by Canonica, an Italian sculptor, in 1928. This 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 or not. 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.

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