İstiklâl Caddesi (Istiklal Street) is the most popular spot to promenade in Istanbul. There are many shops, restaurants, boutiques, and back alley bazaars which bring in around 3 million people a day. Istiklal connects to Taksim Square and is regularly used for protests, demonstrations, and marches. There will be a large demonstration in Taksim on May 1st where protesters and police will literally shut down the district.
Walking down Istiklal is quite an experience. Recommissioned trolleys part the sea of people as a few young children run after, jumping on the back to catch a free ride. There are people everywhere. Many are tourists, others have lived here their whole lives, we see refugees who are trying to make a new life, and a whole cultural mosaic of street performance artists. As we walk past one group of buskers, their music fades into the distance just as the melody of another group comes within earshot until the entire street blends together like a mix tape filled with accordions, guitars, violins, and flutes.