THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO TAKSIM SQUARE IN ISTANBUL
If you ever plan to visit Istanbul, you will surely read and hear a lot about Taksim Square. Taksim square is an unofficial center of Istanbul. Even though there aren't any historical landmarks in Taksim Square itself, the square is one of the most popular places where people meet. Taksim Square is packed with high-end hotels, restaurants, cafes, and bars. In this blog post, I will provide you with all the necessary information regarding the square.
Taksim square is situated in a popular district of Istanbul called Beyoglu which belongs to the European part of Turkey. Taksim Square is rightly considered the heart of Istanbul. The central station of the Istanbul Metro network is also situated in Taksim Square.
In the past, Taksim square had very strategic importance. The square was used as a water distribution center. From Taksim Square, water was distributed to all districts of Istanbul. In the Arabic language, "Taksim" means division or distribution. Distribution of water was its main use in the past. This is why the square has such a name.
HOW TO GET TO TAKSIM SQUARE
The best way to get to Taksim Square is to use the metro. Regardless of your physical location in Istanbul, go to the nearest metro station. Find a young man/woman and ask him/her about a route to Taksim Square. If nobody helps you which is very unlikely in Turkey, then you should approach a security guard inside the metro and ask him about a route to Taksim. It is very easy to sport a guard because they all wear blue t-shirts and dark trousers. Also, there is a title on their uniforms "GUVENLIK".
Even though I have been to Istanbul a lot of times, I still ask people for locations. The city is huge, and therefore, it is difficult to learn and understand the complications of its metro system. What is more, even Turks themselves ask for help to find certain locations in Istanbul. Thus, mostly, only Istanbul dwellers are fully competent in Istanbul metro system.
THINGS TO DO IN TAKSIM SQUARE
Taksim Square is just a big square packed with thousands of tourists from various countries of the world. The square is always very crowded. You will see people of all skin colors, nationalities, races, and religions in Taksim Square. All of them are moving somewhere. They are preoccupied with their emotions and shopping plans. You will also see posh restaurants, cafes, and bars on the square. Once you are there, you can do some of the following things.
JUST WALK IN TAKSIM SQUARE
As I told you before, there aren't any major and famous historical landmarks in Taksim. This is why just simply walking on the square is one of the best things you should do if you have just arrived at Taksim Square. Stroll on the square and explore it. Look at all those wondering tourists who are shooting photos, posing on the square, etc. You can also sit on the square. Taksim Square has nice sitting places for absolutely free. Sit down and enjoy the view of the square.
TASTE SOME FAST FOOD IN TAKSIM SQUARE
I can't say that fast food in Taksim Square is better than in other districts of Istanbul. However, you should surely taste at least a doner, shaurma, and other types of popular street food. Probably, like most travelers, you are a little bit hungry and you want something truly delicious.
Fast food in Taksim Square is not much more expensive than street food in other districts of Istanbul. It is more expensive, but the difference isn't significant because it is food. You will overpay a few Turkish Liras, but it will be worth it.
VISIT GEZI PARK IN TAKSIM SQUARE
Gezi Park is a small but very pretty park situated in the eastern part of Taksim Square. You can find the location yourself without Google Maps. Just look for some green landscapes, and you will find the park. Go to the park and spend some time relaxing there.
If you are with friends or family, you can visit a nearby Şok market and buy some food and drinks for a picnic in Gezi Park.
In early summer, Gezi Park is wonderful. It is beautiful and the weather is just right for picnics and relaxation in "nature."
VISIT TAKSIM MOSQUE
Taksim Mosque is an imposing and beautiful building you will easily recognize in Taksim Square. The Mosque doesn't have an expansive and unique history because it was built only in 2017. Nonetheless, you should surely visit the mosque if you are in Taksim Square. Taksim Mosque is open for Muslims and Non-Muslims, women and men. If you are a female planning to visit Taksim Mosque, you should cover your head.
ISTIKLAL STREET IN TAKSIM SQUARE
Istiklal street in Taksim Square is one of the most famous streets in the world. The street extends from Taksim Square to the Karakoy district. The city is very old and it has one of the oldest tram lines in the world. The street is narrow and always crowded with thousands of people.
While walking on Istiklal street, you will see masses of tourists, hotels, bars, and restaurants on your left and right sides. There isn't much interesting and unique to admire on Istiklal street. The place is very touristy. However, if you are in Taksim Square, you should surely see this street.
TAKSIM IS NOT A TRAVEL DESTINATION
If you are a real traveler, not a tourist, you wouldn't like Taksim Square. As a traveler, you should visit Taksim at least once if you are in Istanbul. Other than that, I don't recommend Taksim Square to travelers and backpackers. The main reason is that the square is boring and useless.
If you are a backpacker who is hunting for boutiques, posh restaurants, ultra-expensive bars, and pubs, then Taksim Square is your place. On the other hand, if you are a savvy backpacker and you abhor too touristy places, then you will at least dislike Taksim Square.
I have been to Taksim Square many times. The first time I visited Taksim square was because I just wanted to see it. My later visits to the square were just because I needed it. I had to meet a person there for business purposes. Other than that, I wouldn't visit Taksim Square for the sake of cultural or travel pleasure. The place is too crowded and the aura is very negative.
EVERYTHING IN TAKSIM SQUARE IS ULTRA-EXPENSIVE
If you are a spoiled tourist who comes and leaves countries in white shorts and shoes, then you might enjoy overpaying for everything in Taksim Square. Real savvy backpackers, on the other hand, won't find anything useful in Taksim Square.
Do you need a hotel? There are only ultra expensive five-star hotels in Taksim Square. Do you want to have lunch or dinner in a cafe? Be ready to pay 500% more than in other places in Istanbul. Do you want to do some shopping? Prepare to pay at least three figures in dollars for anything you buy in Taksim Square.
Touristy places are always very expensive because tourists are money-wasters. Whilst backpackers travel and explore different destinations for months, tourists come for 5 days, stay in a hotel, and learn almost nothing about the country of their visit.
TAKSIM SQUARE'S IDEAL CLIENT
You know that all touristy places strive to make as much money as possible. This is why tourism exists. Taksim Square is one of the most touristy squares in the world. I have been to the square dozens of times, and I have never seen even a single backpacker there. Travelers don't visit such places because there aren't many adventurous things to do there.
Like all money-making places and businesses, Taksim Square has a profile of its ideal visitor. The ideal visitor is a rich American or European tourist, or an affluent Arab from one of the Gulf countries. Groups of tourists, Western couples, and rich Arab families also suit the profile of Taksim's ideal visitor. These people always stay in their comfort zone, don't know the local language, and waste tons of money due to their incompetency and inability to be flexible in alien environments.
If you are a smart backpacker who always finds the best deals at the most advantageous prices, then you will think that Taksim Square is just a money-sucking destination with no real sightseeing places.
IS TAKSIM SQUARE FOR YOU?
If you are a deeply introverted person who abhors huge crowds of people, and a lot of noise, and you are sensitive to a negative aura, then, Taksim Square isn't the best place for your visit. On the other hand, you should still visit it because it is one of the most famous places in Istanbul. If you don't see it, you will later regret it.
IS TAKSIM SQUARE SAFE?
Regardless of the time of your visit, Taksim Square is always safe. There is a tourism police right in Taksim Square. Police keep order in that crowded place. If you have an issue that troubles you, you can always the police and they will resolve your problem.
On the other hand, the existence of tourism police doesn't fully protect you against scammers and pickpocketers. In crowded places, you can easily get your smartphone, wallet, money, jewelry, and other valuable things stolen. Be careful and always mindful of your belongings.
Taksim Square is full of scam artists who might promise you an unbelievably lucrative job, a business deal, or something similar. Stay away from these people. They make money by scamming tourists and travelers. I know a young Morrocan man who gave 500 TL (30$) to another Arab man who promised him a good job. In the end, no job was found and his money wasn't returned.
Taksim Square is very famous and popular, but it isn't exempt from its negative sides. I have described some of them. In any case, you should surely visit and explore the square to understand Istanbul and the psychology of tourism.
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