Istanbul’s bustling heart, Taksim Square, is hardly one of the world’s urban wonders, but in terms of political and historic significance it would definitely rank among the top. A political and public meeting point, it is Turkey’s modern-day agora. Political and social opposition groups are eager to raise their voices from Taksim and refuse to be barred from the square. Last but not least, Taksim is a powerful symbol of Republican Turkey.
Given the square’s significance, it would have been unthinkable for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to remain indifferent to it, especially at the zenith of his power. He wanted to transform it in an irreversible way. Moreover, he was bent on planning and managing the transformation unilaterally and even personally, feeling no need whatsoever to consult the city folk and seek their approval.