aksim Gezi Park is an urban park in Taksim Square, in Istanbul's Beyoglu district. It is one of the smallest parks of Istanbul. In May 2013, plans to replace the park with a reconstruction of the former Taksim Military Barracks (demolished 1940) intended to house a shopping mall sparked the 2013 Taksim Gezi Park protests in Turkey.
Military barracks were constructed on the site of Gezi Park in 1806. Named the Halil Pasha Artillery Barracks (Turkish: Halil Pasa Topcu Kislasi), it was a grand building designed in Ottoman, Russian and Indian architectural style. The barracks suffered considerable damage during the 31 March Incident in 1909, and waited to be repaired.
In 1936, the French architect and city planner Henri Prost (1874-1959) was invited to Turkey by President Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. He was tasked with the preparation of Istanbul's rough-cut urban planning, which lasted until 1951. In accordance with Prost's planning, the barracks building was demolished in 1940 by the city governor and mayor Lutfi Kirdar (in office 1938-1949).
In the time before the demolition took place, the internal courtyard of the barracks was rearranged and used as the Taksim Stadium. The Turkish national football team played their first ever official international match in this stadium against the German team on October 26, 1923 that ended up with a 2-2 draw.
Prost's city plan, which came into force in 1939, provided amongst others a large continuous green park, called Park No. 2, covering an area of 30 ha (74 acres) between the locations Taksim, Nisantasi and Macka extending to Bosphorus including the Dolmahce Valley. The large park was intended to offer recreation and green space to Istanbul's residents as well as to visitors of the city.
The construction of the park was completed in 1943, and it was opened under the name "Inonu Park" in honor of the second president Ismet Inonu (in office 1938-1950) by Lutfi Kirdar personally. The covering area of the park diminished in later years with the building of big hotels in the zone. Nevertheless, the park remained an important recreational area within the downtown of the city, and its outlook changed often with restorations.
From 28 May 2013, plans were being enforced to replace Taksim Gezi Park with a reconstruction of the historic Taksim Military Barracks (demolished in 1940) which would house a shopping mall. The protests developed into riots when a group occupying the park was attacked by police. The subjects of the protests have since broadened beyond the development of Taksim Gezi Park, developing into wider anti-government demonstrations. The protests have also spread to other cities in Turkey, and protests have been seen in other countries with significant Turkish communities.
In 31 May 2013, police suppressed the protesters with tear gas, arrested at least 60 people and injured hundreds. The police action received wide attention online. Protesters organized and gathered on Istiklal Avenue, reaching thousands on the night of 31 May.