Located in northwestern of Turkey, Istanbul is the largest city forming the economic and cultural center of the country with its population more than 12 millions. It is a transcontinental city, in other words -as the old cliché says- where east meets west. The Bosphorus strait, one of the world’s busiest waterways, crosses between the city’s European and Asiatic sides. Recent archaeological discoveries suggest that the history of Istanbul goes back to 8500 years ago. Istanbul has always been one of the most important cities of the Mediterranean world. The city served as the capital of three former empires- Late Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman- throughout history. Visitors of the city enjoys historic buildings mostly placed in where locals called “historic peninsula” which surrounded by the old city walls. Sultanahmet area offering architectural masterpieces such as Haghia Sophia, Blue Mosque and Topkapı Palace is the heart of historic peninsula. Other must-see places include one of the oldest shopping center in the world; Grand Bazaar, Spice (Egyptian) Bazaar and several other monuments along the Golden Horn; a natural harbor bounding the historic peninsula. Being the hippest district in the european side of the city, Beyoğlu offers modern art museums and galleries, bookstores, shops, restaurants, rooftops, clubs and bars in company with historic buildings. Karaköy, Galata, Tünel, Pera, İstiklal Avenue and Cihangir regions within the district represent the cosmopolit nature of the city and hosts millions of visitors each year. Other focal points of the city are Nişantaşı, Ortaköy and Bebek regions on the European side and Kadıköy on the Asiatic side. Historic seaside mansions, Ottoman palaces, several sea food restaurants and open-air clubs are placed side by side along the Bosphorus which provides a unique atmosphere to the city.
Public transport comprises bus network, various rail systems, funiculars and maritime services. There are two airports; Sabiha Gökçen on the Asian side and Atatürk Airport on the European side located nearby the city. Shuttle services from both airports and a metro line from Atatürk airport are available. Climate of Istanbul is quite moderate, it is usually mild but sometimes wet during the spring (conference season). Sultanahmet and Beyazıt regions where the various accomodation facilities located are on the walking distance from the conference hall . It is also possible to arrive hall from the hotels or hostels around Taksim, Galata or Pera via public transport. Turkey’s official currency is “Turkish Lira”. Exchange offices are available both at the airport and major streets.