Taksim is considered the heart of modern Istanbul and a major food and nightlife destination. Around the Square is the iconic Ataturk Cultural Centre, Taksim Mosque, Gezi Park, Madame Tussauds Istanbul and the Istanbul Cinema Museum. Here we explore top things to do, see, places to eat, drink and stay in Taksim with local expert help.
The square marks the beginning of Istiklal Street, a long pedestrianized avenue with dozens of shops, restaurants, cafés, bars and international fast-food chains. As a whole, Taksim is one of the most visited districts in the city, both by locals and tourists.
Exploring Taksim – What to Do & See?
Take a walk along the famous Istiklal Street
Istiklal, a street that stretches for about 1,400 meters between Tunel and Taksim Square in Beyoglu district, is without a doubt the most famous street of Istanbul and even Turkey. A must-visit places in Istanbul espeially for firs-time visitors.
Istiklal Street has a lively and lively structure for 24 hours and is home to many activity areas from cafes to bars, shops to boutiques, restaurants to buffets, movie theaters to nightclubs. There are a number of historical buildings worth seeing such as Salt Beyoglu, Borusan Culture and Art Center, Atlas Passage, Aznavur and Aleppo passages, Terkos Passage, St. Antonine Church, Hagia Triada Greek Orthodox Church, and Flower Passage.
Hagia Triada Greek Orthodox Church
The Hagia Triada Church, also known as Church of the Holy Trinity, is located in the Taksim neighborhoods, just by the entrance of the famous Istiklal Street. The church was built between 1876 and 1880, which is considered the heart of Istanbul. The church is considered one of the largest Orthodox architectural structures and churches in Istanbul.
The historical building, which is important for the Orthodox sect, is built on an area that was used as a Greek cemetery and Greek hospital in the past, but was later evacuated. Although the architect named Potessaro started the construction, the building was completed by Vassilaki Ionnidis.
The building had the distinction of being the first church built with a dome among the churches up to the time it was built. Sculptor Alexandros Krikelis produced marble works, while Sakellarios Megaklis painted and decorated the interior.
Madame Tussauds Wax Museum
The famed Madame Tussauds Wax Museum Istanbul branch, featuring 60 foreign and Turkish stars, is located on Istanbul’s most famous thoroughfare, the Istiklal Street. Meet Michael Jackson, Bob Marley, Madonna, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Marilyn Monroe, Bruce Willis, Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, Muhammad Ali, Usain Bolt, Albert Einstein, Atatürk, Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror, and many more celebrities to take photos with.
It’s a great activity to do with your children. You may have them guess who the characters are and teach them about a variety of subjects such as movies, history, and music.
Saint Antoine Catholic Church
Saint Antoine Catholic Church, also known as St. Anthony of Padua or Sant’Antonio di Padova, is one of the most impressive historical churches in Istanbul. Located on the famous Istiklal Street, the church has the distinction of being the largest Roman Catholic Church in the city.
St. Anthony’s Church attracts its visitors with a secret motive with its monumental architecture and silence. Built by an architect named Mongeri, this temple in the Italian gothic style attracts a lot of attention from tourists especially because of its icons adorning its showcases, impressive stained glass and its doors being open to visitors all day long.
The church is an important religious haunt around the world. In addition, Luigi Bresciani’s gilded wooden statue of St.Anthony, as well as many art works are a must see. The church has a very important place in the Catholic world and in 2003 Pope XXIII. John also preached in this church during his visit to Istanbul.
Pera & Beyoglu
Following Istiklal Street to the south, and sandwiched between Galata and Taksim, is located the historic Pera area which is part of the district of Beyoglu. Traditionally, Pera was Istanbul’s diplomatic quarter and many of its original grand palaces and mansions are still in use to this day.
Private Pera Museum
Located along Tarlabasi boulevard in the Beyoglu district and close to famous Istiklal Street, the Private Pera Museum is one of the city’s active cultural and artistic venues. Housed in the magnificent Hotel Bristol building, originally built in 1893, the museum was opened by the Suna and Inan Kirac Foundation in 2005 and you can enjoy the special collections belonging to the foundation. There are also multi-purpose exhibition halls, auditorium, education room, Artshop and Pera Cafe.
Orientalist Painting Collection, Anatolian Weights and Measures Collection, Kütahya Tile and Ceramics Collection, and Includes Photo Collection are among the permanent exhibitions you can see at the Pera Museum.
Named one of the five best places in the world to live by the British newspaper The Guardian, Cihangir is a neighborhood in the Beyoglu district. The area is home to an important community of expatriates.
As such, Cihangir is one of the most diverse and cosmopolitan areas in Istanbul. The neighborhood is not serviced by the metro or tram lines, however it is a short walking distance from Galata, Taksim and Karakoy.
Getting to and around
The historic T2 tram line runs along Istiklal Street and connects Taksim Square to the historic Pera neighborhood.
The F1 Kabatas-Taksim Funicular line connects Taxim to the Besiktas neighborhood located below the Square and down by the Bosphorus shore. Taksim Square is also serviced by the M2 Metro line.