Saturday, May 31, 2014

Istanbul 2014 - Istiklal Caddesi & Taksim Square

Date: 7th April 2014

These were the 2 places that we last went to end our hectic schedules catching up with all places of attraction in our itinerary list. We took tram from Galata Tower to find first, the Istiklal Avenue and lastly to have some photos with the monument of the Republic seated at the centre of the Taksim Square. Anne had her dream come true when we had an opportunity to ride the historic red tram at Beyoglu station in front of the tunnel. 

A photo with a historic red tram on ─░stiklal Avenue

Istiklal Caddesi is Independence Avenue, one of the most famous avenues in Istanbul, Turkey, visited by nearly 3 million people in a single day over weekends. Located in the historic Beyoglu district, it contains an elegant pedestrian street, 1.4 kilometers long, which houses boutiques, music stores, bookstores, art galleries, cinemas, theatres, libraries, cafes, pubs, night clubs with live music, historical patisseries, chocolateries and restaurants.

The avenue is surrounded by late Ottoman era buildings, mostly from the 19th and early 20th centuries. It’s neighbourhood included Galata Tower and ultimately leads up to Taksim Square. Galatasaray Square is located at approximately the center of the avenue and is home to one of the finest educational institutions established in Turkey at the time of the Ottoman Empire.

Thinking of my children when passing this shop :(
In the historic Galata district towards the southern end of the avenue, we had an opportunity to see the world's 2nd oldest subway station (after London's Underground, built in 1863), generally known and referred to as simply Tune (The Tunnel) which entered service in 1875. 

A historic tram that were in used in the late 18th century

During the Ottoman period, the avenue was called Grand Avenue and was a popular spot for Ottoman intellectuals, also becoming a center for European foreigners and the local Italian and French Levantines who referred to it as Grande Rue de Pera, Paris of the East. With the declaration of the Republic on October 29, 1923, the avenue's name was changed to Independence for commemorating the triumph at the Turkish War of Independence.

The avenue briefly fell from grace due to series of riots, but, a massive restoration by the Municipality has brought the avenue its old charm and popularity. It once again became the center of fine arts and leisure in Istanbul, with real estate prices skyrocketing as a result. Numerous new art galleries, bookstores, cafes, pubs, restaurants, shops and hotels were opened. The venues around the avenue became the host of many international art festivals, such as the annual Istanbul Film Festival. A long Istiklal Avenue pedestrian shopping street, ends at Taksim square. 

The Monument of the Republic (1928) on Taksim Square, crafted by Italian sculptor Pietro Canonica
Taksim Square is a location of the Monument of the Republic 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 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. Taksim is a main transportation hub and a popular destination for both tourists and the native population of Istanbul. 

Taksim is also a favourite location for public events such as parades, New Year celebrations, or other social gatherings. Ataturk Cultural Center, a multi-purpose cultural center and opera house, is also located at Taksim Square. Taksim Square is an important hub for public transport in Istanbul. 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.

This entry is the last of what I wanted to share from historical and panoramic view of all places visited during our short stay of 4 days. The next will on the Train Rides which are my other favorite subject matter .

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