Taksim Artillery Barracks in photos

Taksim Artillery Barracks in photos

ISTANBUL - Anatolia News Agency
Taksim Artillery Barracks in photos

The Taksim Artillery Barracks were built in 1806, during the reign of the Ottoman Sultan Selim III.

Turkish art historian Süleyman Faruk Göncüoğlu has revealed an archive of previously unseen photos of the Taksim Artillery Barracks (Taksim Topçu Kışlası) in Istanbul. The photos are from 1938, and there are more than 100,000 photos in the historian’s archive.

The Taksim Artillery Barracks were built in 1806, during the reign of the Ottoman Sultan Selim III. Its interior grounds were later transformed into Taksim Stadium in 1921 and became the first football stadium in Turkey, used by all major football clubs in the city, including Beşiktaş, Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe. The stadium was closed in 1939 and demolished in 1940, during the renovation of Taksim Square.

Göncüoğlu gave information about the building and how it developed over years, saying that during the Republican years, the work to make Istanbul suitable for a republic began. Construction work started in 1938.

During the 1920s everyone was scared to go to the Taksim Artillery Barracks, Göncüoğlu said. “The building had some bitter moments. Then six-story buildings were built in Taksim after the 1920s and an elite segment of Istanbul began to live there.”

However, many extra buildings were built near the military barracks, and some were involved in drug trafficking cases.

Until the end of 1933, the artillery barracks were used as a place to process opium under government surveillance. Opium grown in Turkey and processed in the barracks was sent to America and Europe. Opium processing was banned in 1933 but continued illegally until 1937.

The era of Abdülhamid II

The Taksim Artillery Barracks also had a story about the Ottoman Sultan Abdülhamid II, Göncüoğlu said. April 24 and 25, 1908, many soldiers died there during the March 31 incidents.

In 1938 the government decided to demolish the building and make a park in its place. The aim was to make a park like the ones in Paris, added the historian.

“The park, called Gezi Park, was not like we see it today. It used to cover a very large area, which also has hotels such as the Ceylan and Hilton. It was a very important corner for Istanbul locals,” he said. “The area has been turned into a very banal and small park today that means nothing.”

The inner part of the barracks was the first stadium in Istanbul. “The Turkish National Football Team played its first match against Romania in this stadium on Oct. 26, 1923. The score was 2-2. Also, the first night match in Turkish football history was there on Sept. 9, 1933. It was between Fenerbahçe and Beyoğluspor, and Fenerbahçe won the match.”

According to Göncüoğlu, the Taksim Military Barracks should not be reestablished, “because the history there ended when the building was demolished. Trying to recover the history there again is meaningless.”