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Istanbul International Solid Waste, Water and Wastewater Congress 2013
22-24 May 2013   |   Halic Congress Center - Istanbul - TURKEY


Istanbul – The Glorious Metropolis

Istanbul, Turkey's largest city, bridges the continents and cultures of Europe and Asia. It has been a focal point of world history over the last two millennia serving as the capital of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. The city's unparalleled natural beauty and historical mosques, churches, synagogues, palaces and bazaars attract visitors from all over the world. The city is now a modern metropolis with pride in its past, confidence in its present and optimism in its future safeguarding the treasures of history while meeting the requirements of 21st century citizens and visitors alike.

With the Bosphorus sea-strait flowing along its heart, Istanbul is literally located at where two continents meet; and both Asia and Europe add their distinct flavors to the texture of the city. Economically and culturally, it is the pulsating hub of an extensive map, where Central Asia, East Europe, Balkans, the Caucasus, Middle East and North Africa converge. The important waterline dividing Istanbul into two is the Bosphorus. Istanbul is both the nearest Asian city to Europe and the nearest European city to Asia.

What adds to Istanbul’s significance is its being a port city and all trade paths’ passing through the city for thousands of years. Another important feature of Istanbul is that it has a highly sheltered structure. Especially the center which is presently called as the “historical peninsula”, which was made capital city by both Byzantine and Ottoman Empires and its being located on a hill surrounded by three seas made it almost impossible to be conquered. Indeed, Halic had the quality of being an unparalleled harbour sheltering navy fleets. Today Istanbul is a huge metropolis connecting continents, cultures, and religions and being home to fifteen million people and one of the greatest business and cultural center of the region.

Located in the center of the Old World, Istanbul is one of the world's great cities famous for its historical monuments and magnificent scenic beauties. Istanbul has a history of over 2,500 years, and ever since its establishment on this strategic junction of lands and seas, the city has been a crucial trade center.

The historic city of Istanbul is situated on a peninsula flanked on three sides by the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn. It has been the capital of three great empires, the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires, and for more than 1,600 years over 120 emperors and sultans ruled the world from here. No other city in the world can claim such a distinction.

During its development, the city was enlarged four times, each time the city walls being rebuilt further to the west.

Surrounded by 5th century Roman city walls and stretching over seven hills, Istanbul is adorned by the masterpieces of Turkish art, the great mosques of the Sultans that crown the hills. The city presents an exquisite, majestic and serene silhouette from all directions. The Golden Horn, which is a very secure natural harbor, has played a significant role in the development of the city.

Fortune provided such advantages to Istanbul as a location at a junction where the main overland routes reach the sea, an easily defensible peninsula, an ideal climate, a rich and generous nature, control of the strategic Bosphorus, and a central geographical position in the ancient world.

As a capital of empires, the city was not only an administrative, but also a religious center. The Patriarchate of Eastern Christians has been headquartered here since its establishment, and the largest early churches and monasteries of the Christian world rose in this city on top of the pagan temples. Within a century after the city was conquered, it was enriched with mosques, palaces, schools, baths and other architectural monuments that gave it a Turkish character, while some of the existing churches in ruins were repaired, altered and converted into mosques. Between the 16th century when the Ottoman sultans acquired themselves the title of the "Caliph of Islam" and 1924, the first year of the Republic, Istanbul was also the headquarters of the Caliphate. More Jews settled in Istanbul than any other port, and here they built themselves a new and happy life after they were rescued  from Spain by the Turks in the 15th century. Istanbul has always been a city of tolerance where mosques, churches and synagogues existed side by side. The city was adorned with a large number of dazzling and impressive works even during the period of decline of the Ottomans.

During this time, the influence of European art made itself felt in the new palaces, while the northern slopes of the Golden Horn, Galata and Beyoglu districts assumed a European character. Even when the Empire, which was a party to World War I, collapsed and the young Republic that replaced it moved the capital to Ankara, Istanbul did not lose its significance.

The haphazard development that began in the years following World War II and accelerated in the 1950's has unfortunately had a negative impact on the fabric of the old city, and while old wooden houses disappeared rapidly, concrete buildings proliferated. Istanbul experienced a population explosion due to immigration, and within a very short period it expanded far beyond the historical city walls. The areas inside the walls were invaded by workshops, mills and offices; even the new thoroughfares could not solve the traffic problems, and the inadequacy of the infrastructure gave rise to a sea pollution problem, starting with the Golden Horn.

With the initiatives for saving the city in the 1980s, Istanbul embarked on a process of restructuring on a scale unseen in its history. Thousands of buildings along the Golden Horn were demolished to make way for a green belt on its shores; parks and gardens were built on the land claimed by filling up the beaches of the Sea of Marmara. In order to prevent sea pollution drainage systems were completed and physical and biological wastewater treatment plants were erected; the use of natural gas for heating has considerably reduced air pollution.

Efforts are continuing for the restoration of the Roman city walls, and Beyoglu, the main artery, was rescued by building a new avenue. Improvements were made in the general cleaning, maintenance, garbage collection fields and these services are now at Western European standards. Ring roads cross the Bosphorus over two suspension bridges to connect the two continents. The European side has now a fast tramway system and a subway, and comfort and speed has been ensured in sea transportation with the hydrofoil terminals built on the seashores. All industrial establishments on the historic peninsula have been moved to new facilities in the suburbs, and the new international bus terminal has reduced traffic intensity. The old jail and the first large concrete building of the city were given over to tourism and converted into 5-star hotels.

The city is growing dynamically and developing at full speed on an east-west axis along the shores of the Marmara.

Working Hours

Banks are open weekdays from 8:30 am until noon or 12:30, depending on the bank, and from 13:30 until 17:00. However, there are some banks which continue to serve during lunch breaks. All banks are closed during the weekend.

Museums in Istanbul have different working hours and days. Please check working days and hours from information offices before your visit.

Depending on location, shops are generally open from 9:00 to 19:00. In most touristic places and downtown areas, shops remain open until 21:00 or later. But most stores in shopping malls and crowded streets are open seven days a week, including lunch breaks. You can find restaurants or cafes open virtually at any time of the day or night.

Climate & Clothing

Located in North Western Turkey, Istanbul's weather is more European than Asian and can be considered as mild Mediterranean climate.

Although the temperature in May is about 20°C on average. Bear in mind also that due to the seaside location of the city, humidity is generally high and especially in the evenings, the perceived temperatures can be considerably lower.

Please visit the link below for the current weather forecast for Istanbul:

Local Time

In Istanbul the local time zone is GMT+2 and time is always used on 24 hours.

Currency & Credit Cards

Official currency in Turkey is Turkish Lira (TL)
ATM's are widely available throughout Istanbul and you should have no problem if you land in the city with nothing but a credit card. Credit cards, however, are usually not accepted by most government agencies, public museums or other historic places run by the government. You may frequently have to run to an ATM and withdraw some cash to cover for such expenses.

VISA, MasterCard and AMEX credit cards are accepted by almost every merchant, shops, or café and restaurant. (There is a rare chance that AMEX is not accepted in some places, so it is advisable to carry a Visa or MasterCard with you in case).

Almost all banks' provide the option of making withdrawals in multiple types of currencies such as US Dollar, Euro or Turkish Lira.

Foreign Exchange

Exchanging money is possible almost everywhere in Istanbul. You can change currency and get cash in Turkish Lira at the airport, through banks or exchange bureaus, or directly from any ATM. Exchange bureaus are very popular, especially in touristic areas and are generally easy to spot. Exchanging almost every currency is possible, and bureaus charge no commission while the exchange rates may slightly differ from one another.


Proper travel and health insurance are strongly recommended to all conference participants.

Transportation in Istanbul

Transportation in Istanbul is provided via  bus, ferry, taxi, minibus, subway,tram, light railway.

Bus: Public and private buses are very popular. Those buses operate frequently to different destinations in the city. You can read the name of the place you would like to go, on the sign on the side window in the front. Foreign currency is NOT accepted.

You can purchase the tickets from the ticket offices next to the stations. Sometimes you can find tickets in little corner convenience shops.  There are different types of tickets such as Akbil, Istanbul-Kart in the smart-ticket offices in return for a certain amount. For the long distance you may need to use the double-deckers buses with double tickets.

Ferry: The ferries work between  European stations( Eminonu, Besiktas, Karakoy)  and Asian Side (Kadikoy, Bostanci, Uskudar). If you like to see the Asian Side, you can simply take the ferry from Besiktas to Kadikoy every 30 minutes, 15 past and 15 to. For further info, you can ask for a brochure at the ferry stations. 

Minibus/Dolmus: Minibuses are small buses which do not have a specific time table. They begin operating at 06:00 am in the morning and finish about 01:00 am You pay cash to the driver and the fee changes depending on the line. They usually operate between Besiktas-Harbiye, Besiktas-Taksim, Bostanci-Taksim, and Kadikoy-Taksim.

Tram: Trams are new and very convenient in the touristic areas. There are ticket offices at the tram stations. You can take the funicular from Taksim to Kabatas and board a tram from Kabatas to Sultanahmet to see the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia.

Subway: The "Istanbul Metro" is very convenient if you want to see the downtown and commercial centers in the city. You can purchase the tickest from the ticket  offices next to the stations. It operates between Sishane and Darussafaka, 11 stations in total as Sishane - Taksim - Osmanbey - Sisli - Gayrettepe - Levent - 4 Levent - Sanayi Mahallesi – Istanbul Technical University - Ataturk Oto Sanayi - Darussafaka.

Rent-a car or limousine service: Istanbul has a big traffic problem so you can rent a car when you want to see neighboring towns. Limousine service is given by various travel agencies and Limo Services.