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ABOUT ISTANBUL | THE IMPERIAL CAPITAL



Istanbul; the world’s one of the most ancient metropolis with its rich history and wonderful nature. With its 8.500 years of history, Istanbul is the former capital of Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. Separated to two continents, Asian and European, the city is an ideal example of the natural beauty. Istanbul is the only city in the world built on two continents. Its fate has been determined by its vital strategic location and enchanting natural beauty. It has long been coveted by powerful empires, and served as capital first to Byzantium and then to the Ottoman Empire.

Istanbul stretches along the two shores of the Bosphorus that links the Sea of Marmara in the South with the Black Sea in the North. It is Turkey’s largest city with a population of approximately 15 million. Istanbul is also at the heart of the economy of Turkey. The largest companies and banks, the main national newspapers, television networks and advertising agencies all have their headquarters in this city. Istanbul is also the capital of art and culture with a rich tradition in opera and ballet, theatres performing Turkish and foreign plays, concerts, art exhibitions, festivals, auctions, conferences and of course unique museums. The city also boasts the country’s largest and finest universities. As an imperial capital for 1500 years, Istanbul has acquired a highly original personality. At every turn in the city you are faced with Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman palaces, mosques, churches, monasteries, monuments, walls and ruins. Yet Istanbul is not a city living only in the past. It is a vibrant, modern and future-oriented metropolis. Bazaars and ultramodern supermarkets and department stores, street vendors and stock-brokers, old crumbling buildings and skyscrapers, horse-drawn carts and sumptuous limousines coexist and this amalgam gives the city a multi-faceted outlook and flavor. Istanbul is like an intricately woven carpet, a subtle blend of eastern and western cultures.
For more information about Istanbul >>  www.icvb.org.tr



Transportation

Located in the heart of the world, Istanbul is easily accessible by air, rail, sea and road. Istanbul has an extensive public transport network with its highway, rail and funicular systems and sea transport services.

*Cab / Taxi
Istanbul’s taxis are yellow lighted with TAKSI signs on top. Taxis can easily be found all around the city. In addition, there are many taxi stops around the city near most crowded places, hotels, restaurants and touristic spots, where they can be acquired easily by phone. There is also a mobile application “taximetre” where you can easily call a cab and calculate the approximate fee for the trip.

*Bus
Frequently used all around the city, buses are an economic means of transport. Carrying, the private laned express bus service metrobus carries 700 thousands of passengers daily without passing within a traffic mass; provides fast and comfortable transportation between Sogutlucesme on the Asian side and Beylikduzu on the European side. For more information: http://www.iett.gov.tr/en/main/pages/metrobus/158

*Subway and Tram
Istanbul’s subway operates from Haciosman to the Sishane Station at Beyoglu (M2); from Kirazli to Olimpiyatkoy (M3) and from Kadikoy to Kartal on the Asian Side. As for the tramline; this practical transportation facility operates from Bagcilar to Kabatas (T1), Habibler to Topkapi (T4), Kabatas to Taksim (F1) and Yusufpasa to Esenler and Ataturk Airport (M1). For more information: http://www.istanbul-ulasim.com.tr/

*Railway
Istanbul has a large railway network comprising both Asian (between Haydarpasa and Pendik) and European (between Sirkeci and Halkali) sides. To access the trains, you can use either IstanbulCard, Akbil (the smart ticket) or tokens. There are also fast trains and normal trains leaving from Pendik station to other major cities in Turkey.


*Dolmus
Dolmus is a kind of shared taxi with specific fixed and extensive route and a specific fee. There are many Dolmus routes in the city. One of the commonly used line is the Taksim – Kadikoy line, which is one of the few routes crossing the Bosphorus from both sides and the line is crowded almost in every hour of the day as it is way cheaper then taking a cab.

*Ferry and sea bus
There are many ferry and sea-bus stations in Istanbul connecting the Bosphorus shores, Golden Horn, Prince’s Islands and other areas throughout the city. ‘Vapur’ (big ferries) are connecting the main areas with each ferry leaving in 30 min. or 45 min. periods from 07:00 am in the morning until 10:00 pm in the evening. Where the small ferries of ‘Dentur Avrasya’ or ‘TURYOL’ are connecting the same areas with smaller boats departing in every 5-15 min. periods. Thus the massive city traffic can easily be avoided with sea bus.

*Marmaray
The dream of connecting the two continents under the sea has come true in February 2014 with Marmaray in Istanbul. The “Marmaray Train System” is a 76 kilometers tube tunnel that enables passengers to pass under the Marmara inner sea with train in only a couple of minutes. Between the last stops; Kazlicesme in European side and Ayrilik Cesmesi in Asian side, one can enjoy the travelling of changing continents.

*Transportation cards
The city has an integrated electronic ticket system which uses smart RFID cards called IstanbulCard. It’s a contactless smart card used at public transport in the city and can be acquired at major transport interchanges. The main benefit of IstanbulCard is to save time and money while traveling. The easy to use and easy to obtain reasonably priced IstanbulCard may be used in any public transportation throughout the city with the benefit of cheaper rates compared to buying a ticket or token. Also, the card can be loaded at special machines or some kiosques which can be found almost in every main bus stations and ferry stations.
For more information: http://www.iett.gov.tr/en/main/pages/transportation-cards/147

*Hop-on Hop-off Istanbul City Sightseeing Bus Tour
BigBus Istanbul tour is a cheap way to discover and explore the popular zones of Istanbul which you just couldn’t walk to and see in one day. It drives through the popular sights along the interesting and different districts and neighborhoods of Istanbul and offers informative pre-recorded commentary that is available in 8 languages. The open topped double decker tourist bus really looks cool. You can get off at any of the designated stops (which means hop-off) and than explore the area and sights on foot at your leisure, and then you can catch the next bus (buses arrive the stops in every 30 mins/60 mins.) from any stop when you’re ready (which means hop-on) to move on and visit the other sights on the route. The stops are all located close to the most visited and famous landmarks and attractions of Istanbul. The upper deck of the city sightseeing bus offers a great vantage point for the amazing panoramic views of the city and lets you take photos.

Climate
The climate of Istanbul can be defined as transitional Mediterranean, in fact, it has quite cold winters, but otherwise it has Mediterranean characteristics: the rainiest seasons are autumn and winter, and summer is hot and sunny. During our meeting in June the warm and dry summer season begin in Istanbul with the longest days of the year. The average temperatures are in the range of 16.7°C (62.1°F) to 24.4°C (75.9°F) with a few days touching 26.7°C (80.1°F). The brilliant sunshine lasts for a daily 10.5 hours as the daylight extends to 15 hours. The skies are mostly clear as the sun chases the clouds. The rainfall is to the tune of 35.6mm (1.4"), but thunderstorms are common. The beaches and shorelines see a surge in activity as the sea temperatures rise to a warm 21.1°C (70°F) in June.

Language
Spoken by some 150-200 million people around the world Turkish is a widely used language. Although Turkish is written in Latin alphabet, the language belongs to the Ural-Altaic languages related to the Finno-Ugric. In major cities and resort areas English, German and French are also widely spoken.

Time
Istanbul Standard Time is 3 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (UTC/GMT+3 hours).

Currency and Credit Cards
The Turkish Lira is the official currency in Turkey while the exchange rate is set on a daily basis. It is easy to find a bank or an exchange office while traveller’s checks can be cashed at in most banks. Foreign currencies are accepted at hotels, many shops and restaurants. Turkish lira banknotes come in six denominations of 200, 100, 50, 20, 10, and 5. Each has their own colour but be careful because the 5 lira and 50 lira are remarkably similar. Coins known as kurus are in denominations of 5, 10, 25, 50. 1 lira is a coin. All major credit cards (Visa, Master, and American Express) accepted in hotels, restaurants and shops. But likewise; notify your credit card supplier that you are traveling to the country.

Electricity
The electricity current is 220V AC with a frequency of 50 Hertz. European standard plugs with 2 pins are used.

Business Hours

All government offices are opened 5-days a week, from Mondays to Fridays. Saturdays and Sundays are considered weekends and hence the offices are closed during these days. On top of that, the offices are also closed during the national public holidays. Banks Monday-Friday: from 09:00 am to 17:00 pm, between 12:00 am to 13:30 pm is lunch break. However, there are some banks which continue to serve during lunch breaks. Shops and bazaars are normally open Monday through Saturday from 9:30 am to 1.00 pm and from 2.00 pm to 7.00 pm, and closed all day on Sunday. But most stores in shopping malls and crowded streets are open seven days a week, including lunch breaks. Restaurants or cafes open virtually at any time of the day or night.

Shopping
Istanbul can be considered as Turkey’s capital of culture and fashion and offers many shopping opportunities. The shopping variety of the city ranging from traditional and modern products makes Istanbul an attraction center for shopping lovers. As being a very big metropolis, travelers can easily find almost every world brand in the shopping malls and the districts of Istanbul. Istanbul has everything for every budget and style. From popular outdoor markets, bazaars, carpet & kilim workshops, copper working shops, antique and handicraft shops, to designer shops, traditional shops, modern department stores and very big shopping centers; shopping is one of the best things to do in Istanbul. Our meeting venue, Wyndham Grand Istanbul Levent is near Ozdilek Park Shopping Center, Kanyon Shopping Center, Metro City Shopping Center, Zorlu Center Shopping Mall, Akmerkez Shopping Center.

Tipping
Tips are generally modest in Turkey and in recognition of good service. Try to keep coins or small notes handy and follow these guidelines when you are undertaking independent arrangements. In most cases, you cannot include the tip on a credit card charge. You should tip in cash and, in most cases, hand the tip directly to the person who has served you.

Emergency Numbers

+Ambulance: 112
+Fire: 110
+Police: 155
+Traffic: 154
+Gendarmerie: 156



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