Taksim Square has been the scene of violent clashes between police and anti-government protesters in recent weeks.
Erdem Gunduz said he wanted to take a stand against police stopping demonstrations near the square, Dogan news agency reported.
He stood silently, facing the Ataturk Cultural Centre that was draped in Turkish flags and a portrait of Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, from 6pm on Monday.
By 2am, when the police moved in, about 300 people had joined him. Ten people, who refused to be moved by police, were detained.
Gunduz, swiftly dubbed "standing man" on social media in Turkey, inspired similar protests elsewhere in Istanbul as well as in the capital Ankara and the city of Izmir on the Aegean coast.
The silent protests were in stark contrast to demonstrations at the weekend, which saw some of the fiercest clashes so far when police fired teargas and water cannon to clear thousands from Taksim Square.
What began in May as a protest by environmentalists upset over plans to build on a park adjoining Taksim has grown into a movement against Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan, presenting the greatest public challenge to his 10-year leadership. – Reuters