Tasksim Square is the heart of modern Istanbul and the center of the New District serving as a major tourist destination. It’s the gateway to Istiklal Street, the most active street in Istanbul crowded with pedestrians all year long. It’s also this cities’ “Grand Central Station” serving as the cities’ transportation hub. To me, this area is like walking in Midtown Manhattan in NYC.
If you follow the news, you may be familiar with Taksim, especially from the Gezi Park protests starting in May 2013. Due to it’s central locality, it’s often the gathering point for large crowds, protests and demonstrations.
During the Ottoman period it was called the Grande Rue de Pera, but today Istiklal Sokak, which translates to “Independence Avenue”, is a mile long colorful pedestrian street, and is one of the most well known and popular streets in Istanbul.
Lined with 19th century apartment blocks, European embassy buildings and filled with trendy shops, restaurants, boutiques and even a Shake Shack! Also hidden along the way are churches which once served the communities of Pera. Small bazaars can be found off the side streets, but be careful walking through the street, because it does share the road with an iconic, red nostalgic tram that runs down the middle of it from Taksim to Tünel.
If you’re walking away from Taksim Square along Istiklal Sokak, it will lead you to the Galata Tower and Eminönü.