ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
On the 200th anniversary of the establishment of the state of Chile, a bust of Chilean independence leader Bernardo O’Higgins has been unveiled in Democracy Park in Istanbul's Maçka district. 'It is very important for us to keep the name of our founder alive in Turkey,' said Chilean Ambassador Luis Palma Castillo

The Bernando O'Higgins bust stands next to that of Germany's legendary leader Willy Brandt in the international section of Istanbul's Maçka Park.
A bust of the savior of Chile and the founder of the Chilean Republic, Bernardo O’Higgins has been unveiled in Maçka’s Democracy Park to mark the 200th anniversary of the establishment of the state of Chile.
“No freedom has been successfully achieved in the world without a struggle being undertaken. There is a history of great struggle among all the countries that have achieved independence. And undoubtedly there is a hero, a person in the vanguard, a leader of these great struggles. So today our Şişli has become acquainted with the founder of the state of Chile, Bernardo O’Higgins Riquelme,” Şişli Mayor Mustafa Sarıgül said at the unveiling of the bust. “When the name of Chile is pronounced, our generation knows of Allende and of the poet Pablo Neruda and now it will know O’Higgins.”
O’Higgins was a leader of Chile’s independence struggle, said Chilean Ambassador Luis Palma Castillo. He said: “It is very important for us to keep the name of our founder alive in Turkey. Choosing to put the bust in Istanbul … creates a tie between the Middle East and the West through its characteristic of being a cradle for many civilizations over thousands of years.
“O’Higgins was born in 1778 and, among other places, studied in the United Kingdom where he became convinced that Chile needed to be freed from being a Spanish colony. As part of the struggle, he organized the army units that still form the basis of Chile’s modern army,” Castillo said.
“After independence was achieved, Gen. O’Higgins gave importance to the building of the republic in regard to creating the constitutions of 1818 and 1822, putting an end to slavery, achieving initiatives in the areas of education, culture and commerce, granting individual freedoms and gaining the independence of Peru with the Chilean army and fleet.”
Alongside the bust of O’Higgins are the busts of former German Chancellor Willy Brandt and Dimitrie Cantemir, a writer and historian of Romanian origin.
Maçka Democracy Park
The first time the valley in which Maçka Democracy Park is located was mentioned in texts in the middle of the 19th century. At the time it was strewn with small huts in thick stands of trees. It is thought that it was used as a place for horse riding, picnics and excursions and known as a valley through which water flowed. It must have been a sizeable body of water, because there is information about caique trips on the river that flowed next to the park.
Those who came to the Nilufer Hatun mansions, where the Tesvikiye Mosque and the Nilufer Hatun Primary School are found today, would pass by this valley where they would take a break and drink water from the stream.
At the beginning of the 1970s this area became an intimidating region because it was used by homeless people as a hangout. Rumors spread that children who escaped from the Artigiana Duskunler House, for orphaned children of any ethnicity or religion in Harbiye, had begun to live there and they would scare people who passed by, especially at night.
The small huts, which homeless people mostly used for shelter and which were known as witch houses, were torn down after many locals’ complaints.
At the beginning of the 1990s this region was known as “love park,” where lovers met. In 1993 it was restored, and the word “democracy” was added to its name. A cable car was built that linked the Beyoglu Marriage Office to the park.
In recent times the problem of garbage being strewn about in Maçka Democracy Park grew, and two empty fields in the park which were thought to be the problem were excavated. An area for athletics was built to replace them. In addition, police patrol the park to ensure that homeless people don’t settle there and don’t disturb those passing by. The result is one of the most-visited parks in Istanbul.
Maçka Democracy Park is one of several small parks and green areas in this particular part of Istanbul. The local municipality has been quite active in ensuring that local inhabitants have places to walk and relax away from the stress of urban life and overcrowding. There should be more like it.