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The symbolic heart of modern İstanbul, this busy square is named after the stone reservoir on its western side, once part of the city’s old water-conduit system and now home to the unassuming Taksim Republic Art Gallery. The main water line from the Belgrade Forest, north of the city, was laid to this point in 1732 by Sultan Mahmut I (r 1730–54). Branch lines then led from the taksim to other parts of the city. Hardly a triumph of urban design, the square has a chaotic bus terminus on one side, a slightly pathetic garden laid out in its centre and the tracks of the İstiklal Caddesi tram circumnavigating this garden. The mayor of İstanbul, Kadir Topbaş has publicly announced plans to beautify the square and integrate it with neighbouring Gezi Park, moving the bus station and redirecting traffic in the process; however no timeline for works had been announced when this book went to print. The prominent modern building at the eastern end of the plaza is the Atatürk Cultural Centre (Atatürk Kültür Merkezi, sometimes called the Opera House). Designed by Hayati Tabanlioğlu in 1956–57, it appears to best advantage at night, when its elegant steel mesh is illuminated. In the summertime, during the International İstanbul Music Festival, tickets for festival events are on sale in the ticket office here, and some performances are staged in the centre’s halls. At the western end of the square is the Republic Monument (Cumhuriyet Anıtı), created by Canonica, an Italian sculptor, in 1928. It features Atatürk, his assistant and successor, İsmet İnönü, and other revolutionary leaders. The monument’s purpose was not only to commemorate revolutionary heroes, but also to break down the Ottoman-Islamic prohibition against the making of ‘graven images’.