Escape the bustle of Taksim Square with a short stroll through Istanbul’s Gezi Park
Situated just behind Taksim Square, Gezi Park is one of the few remaining green areas in Istanbul. Like other parks in Istanbul it is very well maintained and you will find many people enjoying the relaxing atmosphere in the shade underneath the huge trees that cover most of the park.
During my recent stay in Istanbul, I walked through Gezi Park to get to my hotel which was located in Harbiye. What I noticed every night on my way back to the hotel was that the park was just as alive at night than it was in the daytime. In the summer time its not uncommon to see parents still out playing with their children in the park after midnight. At night you will also notice a small dolphin fountain that lights up different colours including red, green and blue which is I thought was a nice feature of the park.
At the time of writing this article the peace in Gezi Park has been restored since the events that took place in May 2013 when the park was the centre of nationwide protests. These protests sparked questions about whether Gezi Parks did or did not have a history. Ironically the events of 2013 protests will undoubtably be what the park will be remembered for in years to come.
In 1806, under the reign of Sultan Selim III an artillery barracks complex was constructed in the area of what is now Gezi Park. The building suffered substantial damage during a rebellion in 1909, which led to a change of the Grand Vizier. The barracks were no longer used for military purposes and was later transformed into a Taksim Stadium, which became the first football stadium in Istanbul. The stadium opened in 1921 and became home to all of the major football clubs in Istanbul including Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş.
In 1936, Turkey’s first president Mustafa Kemal Ataturk invited a French architect by the name of Henry Prost to Turkey to develop an ambitious plan to redevelop and modernise Istanbul. As part of Henry Prost’s plans, Taksim Stadium was demolished between the years of 1939 and 1940 to pave the way for Gezi Park.
How to get there
Gezi Park is located in Istanbul’s Beyoğlu district. The main entrance to the park is just behind the main entrance to the Taksim metro station.
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