Istanbul/ Parallel study of Taksim Square and Taşhan Square

Parallel study of Taksim Square and Taşhan Square


When the Turkish Republic first came into power, they decided to move the capital of Turkey from Istanbul to Ankara. The decision to make Ankara the capital of Turkey represented a clean break with the past, for Istanbul, the old imperial city on the Bosphorus, was linked with the traditions of two fallen empires. With the main political focus shifted to the building of new capital, it would be interesting to look at both Istanbul and Ankara at the same time and see what was going on during the nation-building process of the Turkish Republic. By comparing the two major squares in Istanbul (Taksim Square) and Ankara (Taşhan Square), we could start to conclude the urban planning strategies of the emerging political power of the Turkish Republic.


For both planning of the squares, the ultimate aim was to embody certain representational aspects through conscious interventions by the state and both of the squares were experiencing a certain degree of development with the urban dynamism surrounding them.


Independence Monument at Taksim Square in 1930.

For Taksim Square, at the very moment in which the republic was coming into being, the ill-defined junction and chaotic organization of urban fabrics in the area were the first problem that the Turkish republic aimed to tackle at the very first place. The open space between the Maksem, the Artillery Barracks, and the drill field for the soldiers contained an ill-defined junction which seems scattered fragments that seat next to each other without responding to each others. In order to better link all fragments together, the Independence Monument was erected at the centre in 1928 which started to define the curvilinear border of the circular Square. Hence, the traffic was reorganised with the monument as the centre which simplified the traffic node and make the Taksim Square as the focal point of the whole area. Furthermore, to better respond to the circular square, the facades of the annexes to the south of Artillery Barracks were reconstructed.


Victory Monument at the Taşhan Square


For Taşhan Square, with its privileged geographical location as the central space of the city centre, gain the both political influences and economic support for development in the early stage of the government of the Turkish Republic. Serving as the base of the War of Independence, the city centre rapidly transformed into a political space and required new elements along these lines. With the similar urban approach, the traffic around a triangular island was reorganised to provide better traffic experience for both the pedestrians and car drivers. And the erection of the Victory Monument at the square in 1927 was perceived as a method to inject political representations into the development of the public square.


Placing of monuments were one of the active but mild gestures to inject political representations into the existing urban fabrics that full of architectural languages and traditions of the previous empire. Once the monument was placed to the square, the alterations of traffic nodes, infrastructures and surrounding buildings could be rationalised as better response to the newly placed monument. This kind of mild approach to revamp the urban fabric of both Istanbul and Ankara would be more acceptable for the citizens as a mild transition from previous empire to the new-born Turkish Republic.



SİNAN POLVAN , NESLİHAN AYDIN YÖNET, “Story of Taksim Square’s Transformation: From Death’s Stillness To Life’s Hubbub”, Urban Transformation: Controversies, Contrasts and Challenges, Bahçeşehir University, 2010

Batuman, B. “”Everywhere Is Taksim”: The Politics of Public Space from Nation-Building to Neoliberal Islamism and Beyond.” Journal of Urban History (2015): 881-907. Print.
Freely, John. Istanbul: The Imperial City. London: Viking, 1996. Print.

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