Tourist’s guide to Taksim: facts about the popular square in Istanbul

Taksim (Istanbul) is a metropolitan area located in its European region in the Beyoglu district, between the Golden Horn Bay and the Bosphorus. In Turkish, the name of the quarter sounds like Taksim Meydani, which is literally interpreted as “distribution area”. This name is due to the fact that once the place became the intersection of the main urban water utilities, from where water was supplied to the rest of Istanbul. Today, Taksim is a symbol of the liberation of the Turkish people from the outdated dominion of the Ottoman Empire and the country’s transition to a republican form of government.

Taksim, Istanbul

Currently, Taksim is one of the most popular tourist destinations, where several historical sights are located. In addition, the area gained fame thanks to the Istiklal shopping street, which houses hundreds of shops, dozens of prestigious hotels and restaurants. Taksim Square has a highly developed transport infrastructure that allows you to get to almost anywhere in Istanbul. A few years ago, the place was reconstructed and freed from traffic, and all stops were moved a hundred meters from the square. Now, near the center of the district, the M2 metro line operates.

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What to see

Taksim Square in Istanbul is of interest to tourists for several reasons. Firstly, here you can look at historical monuments and appreciate the architectural buildings of the 19th century. Secondly, there are all conditions for high-quality diverse shopping. Well, and thirdly, in the square you will find a lot of restaurants and clubs where nightlife is raging.

Walk on Taksim Square

The heart of the square is the Republic Monument, from which numerous streets depart as if arteries. The architectural appearance of the district is quite diverse, but at the same time very organic: along with historical buildings of the 19th century and miniature mosques, modern buildings rise here. Since Taksim and its streets are always filled with travelers and locals, the region has a bustling, noise-filled atmosphere, characteristic of a vibrant metropolis. If you look at the Taksim Square in Istanbul on the map, you can immediately notice for yourself several iconic places, among which you should definitely visit:

Taksim area walk, Turkey
Monument Republic

This monument is present on almost every photo of Taksim in Istanbul. It was designed by Italian engineer Pietro Canonic and built on the square in 1928. The 12 m high monument is two-sided and consists of several sculptures. Its northern part depicts ordinary citizens and illustrious marshals of Turkey, including the first president of the country – M.K. Ataturk. It is noteworthy that on the south side of the monument are the figures of the Soviet revolutionaries Voroshilov and Aralov. Atatürk personally ordered the inclusion of these sculptures in the monument, thereby expressing his gratitude to the USSR for the support and financial assistance provided to Turkey in its liberation struggle.

Monument Republic

Galata Tower

If you decide what to see on Taksim Square in Istanbul, we advise you to pay attention to the Galata Tower. Although the attraction is 2.5 km from the square, you can get to the place in 10 minutes by city bus or in 30 minutes on foot, following Istiklal Street. Galata Tower simultaneously acts as a landmark historical monument and a popular viewing platform. The object is located on a hill of the Galata quarter at an altitude of 140 m above sea level. Its height is 61 m, the wall thickness is 4 m, and the outer diameter is 16 m.

Galata Tower

The attraction grew on the site of an ancient stronghold dating from the 6th century. In the 14th century, the Genoese, who recaptured the area from Byzantium, began to fortify the area with fortifications and erected a tower that survived to this day. At that time, the building served as a beacon for ships, but in the 16th century, with the arrival of the Ottomans in these lands, the stronghold was transformed into an observatory. In the 19th century, the tower was reconstructed, a balcony was attached to it and began to be used to track fires in the city.

View from the Galata tower

Today, the Galata Tower is given the status of a museum object. To get to the observation deck, visitors can use a special elevator or overcome 143 ancient steps. Now on the upper tier of the building there is a fashionable restaurant with breathtaking views of Istanbul, the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn. A souvenir shop is located on the lower floor of the tower.

Istiklal Street

The Taksim district in Istanbul owes much of its popularity to Istiklal Street. This is the famous shopping avenue, stretching over a distance of almost 2 km. The first Muslim settlements in this part of Istanbul appeared in the 15th century, and already in the 16th century the area began to be intensively built up with residential houses, trading shops and workshops. So, once the forest zone gradually transformed into the epicenter of trade and handicraft. In subsequent years, the street is actively populated by Europeans, which dilutes its eastern appearance with Western motifs. The prospectus got its modern name after Atatürk came to power: literally from Turkish the word “Istiklal” is translated as “independence”.

Istiklal Street

Today Istiklal Street has become a popular tourist center, which is visited for shopping and gastronomic relaxation. On the avenue there are hundreds of stores with products of both international brands and national brands. It is here that numerous nightclubs, hookahs, pizzerias, bars, cafes and restaurants are located. Although the street is considered to be pedestrian, a historic tram car runs on it, which can often be seen in a photo of Taksim Square in Istanbul. Not far from the avenue are famous hotels such as Hilton, Ritz-Carlton, Hayatt and others.

Fast Foods on Istiklal Street

Where to settle

A selection of hotels in the Taksim district of Istanbul is one of the best in the metropolis. Here are more than 500 accommodation options for every taste and budget. However, in general, rental housing in Taksim is quite expensive. So, per night in a double room of a 3 * hotel on average you will pay 250-300 TL. The cheapest option in this segment will cost 185 TL. Accommodation in the top five will be at least twice as expensive: the average cost of booking a room in such establishments ranges from 500-600 TL, while meals are not included in the price. Budget hostels are best suited for economical travelers, with overnight stays starting at 80 TL for two. Having examined the hotels of the district, we found several worthy options with a high rating at the booking:

Hotel Hotel Gritti Pera
Hotel gritti pera
Hotel Gritti Pera ***

The hotel is located in the center of Taksim near the metro. The object has an unusual interior decorated in an old French style. The rooms have all the necessary equipment and furniture. In summer, the rental price for a double room is 275 TL (breakfast is included in the amount).

Ramada Plaza By Wyndham Istanbul City Center *****
Ramada Plaza By Wyndham Istanbul City Center Hotel
Ramada Plaza By Wyndham Istanbul City Center

This five-star eco-friendly hotel with a rooftop pool and spa is 1.8 km from Taksim Square. Its rooms are equipped with modern equipment, and some of them are equipped with a small kitchen and a bathtub with hydromassage. In high season, the cost of a double hotel is 385 TL per night. This is one of the most profitable offers in the 5 * segment.

Rixos Pera Istanbul *****

Among Taksim hotels in Istanbul, this object stands out for its high quality service and convenient location. Nearby are all the main attractions of the area, and Istiklal Street is located just 200 meters from the hotel. The facility has its own fitness and spa center, clean and spacious rooms. In summer, booking a hotel room will cost 540 TL for two per day.

Hotel room Rixos Pera Istanbul
Rixos Pera Istanbul

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How to get there

Atatürk Havalimanı Metro Station

If upon arrival in Istanbul you immediately want to go to Taksim Square, then the metro will be the best option for transportation. The subway platform is located in the building of the air harbor on the underground level. You can find the metro by signs with the inscription “Metro”. To get to Taksim, you need to take the red line M1A at Atatürk Havalimanı station and drive 17 stops to the Yenikapı terminal station, where the red line intersects the green. Next, you need to transfer to the green branch M2 and after 4 stops, land at the Taksim station.

Tram T1

If you are more interested in the question of how to get to Taksim Square from Sultanahmet, then in this case it will be easiest for you to use the tram lines. In the historical district, you need to catch a tram at the Sultanahmet stop, moving along the T1 line. Next, you should land at Fındıklı Mimar Sinan Üniversitesi station and walk about 1 km in a north-westerly direction.

You can also get to Taksim Square by funicular. But first you have to take the T1 line tram at Sultanahmet station and get off at Kabataş stop, next to which is the F1 funicular station of the same name. In just 2 minutes, the transport will take you to the desired Taksim station, from where you will have to walk about 250 m in a westerly direction. Here are probably the 3 most convenient ways to get to Taksim, Istanbul.

Istanbul: Taksim Square and Istiklal Avenue

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