FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Taksim, İstanbul

Jul 2, 2015
2015 / June 2015

You can certainly find more popular tourist haunts in İstanbul — Nişantaşı for high-end shopping, Sultanahmet for eras-old cultural sights, and Cihangir for the hippest happenings — but it’s still the very central, very crowded Taksim that acts as the literal and figurative heart of this cosmopolitan city.

Taksim made worldwide news in 2013 when locals protested the planned destruction of Gezi Park, one of the oldest and last remaining green spaces in the neighborhood, into a commercial development. Things have since calmed down, but Taksim remains the social and cultural nucleus of İstanbul.

Musicians performing in Taksim Square

Musicians performing in Taksim Square © Adeline Yeo Hwee Ching | Dreamstime.com

Truly, there is no better place to get a feel for the buzz of the city than in Taksim. It’s the main transportation hub of İstanbul, and being here at rush hour overloads the senses: İstanbul receives more than a million people on a weekday to work. Most of them do so through Taksim Square, which houses the city’s major train and bus depots. The same is true for İstiklâl Caddesi, the busiest shopping thoroughfare in İstanbul which, except for a historic tram that goes from Taksim Square to Tünel Square, is a pedestrian boulevard dotted with high-street boutiques, musicians, late-night clubs and restaurants. The stylish rooftop 360 Istanbul restaurant-bar-lounge offers outstanding views of İstanbul and, if the time is right, of national and international celebrities.

İstiklâl’s side streets are just as jam-packed for exploration. Fıccın is a cozy eatery well known for traditional Turkish cuisine. The mantı, a local stuffed pasta, is particularly delicious with a garlicky sauce and peppered oil.

Much of İstanbul’s contemporary cultural scene also thrives in this neighborhood. SALT, an organization focused on creative innovations, transformed a six-story apartment building into 12,000-plus square feet of exhibition space and also includes a cinema, a rooftop garden, a bookstore and more. Arter, another art space for hot Turkish talents, occupies an early 20th-century mansion and has hosted exhibitions from the likes of the interdisciplinary artist Volkan Aslan and Füsun Onur, known for her avant-garde sculptures. The Atatürk Cultural Center is closed for renovations but will add even more cultural cache to Taksim as soon as it reopens.

If you want to stay close to all this action, the Martı İstanbul Hotel, which opened in 2012 with interiors overseen by acclaimed designer Zeynep Fadıllıoğlu, offers tranquil respite from the district’s frenetic energy: A relaxing courtyard and a 9,100-square-foot wellness center equipped with three hammams await.

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FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

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