30 January 1948

As a result of the great success of the Turkish wrestlers at “1948 World Olympic Games” and at “European Wrestling Championships”, it was decided that the “1949 European Wrestling Championship” would be organized in Istanbul. Although Istanbul was the city where the modern Turkish sports had been supported, there were not any indoor sports halls in the city. 

To fulfill this need, the architectural project was prepared by Pietro Vietti-Violi, the famed Italian architect of “Dolmabahçe İnönü Stadium“ and the Turkish architects “Şinasi Şahingiray” and “Fazıl Aysu”. Consequently, the foundations of the Istanbul Sports and Exhibition Center were laid by “Dr. Lütfi Kırdar”, the Istanbul Mayor and Governor on December 30th, 1948. During the foundation ceremony, it was suggested by the Head of Istanbul Football and Sportsmen Federation that the Center be named after “Dr. Lütfi Kırdar”. But Mr. Kırdar stated that he would not accept any establishment to be named under his name while he was still alive.

Firstly, the "European Wrestling Championship" was held in Istanbul Sports and Exhibition Center on June 3rd, 1949.  Following the Championship, as the first organization in Istanbul “Istanbul International Commerce and Industry Fair” was held on October 2nd, 1949.

In the following years, national and international competitions such as basketball, volleyball, handball, wrestling, boxing, weight lifting, ice hockey, ice skating, dance and circus shows, fairs, big concerts, meetings and exhibitions were also organized in the largest hall of the Center. The “Istanbul Sports and Exhibition Hall” remained as Turkey's only indoor sports and exhibition hall for many years.

As “Dr. Lütfi Kırdar” did not accept to have his name given to the establishments he contributed to when he was still alive, the building was renamed as “Istanbul Lütfi Kırdar Sports and Exhibition Center” on February 17th, 1988.

“Istanbul Lutfi Kırdar Sports and Exhibition Center” continued to operate as sports and exhibition venue between 1988 - 1996. After United Nations decided to organize “Habitat II Summit” in Istanbul in 1996, the Center was renamed as “International Convention Center” and started to serve for tourism sector under the name “Istanbul Convention and Exhibition Center.” “Habitat II Summit”, the biggest and most extensive conference of United Nations in the 20th century, was organized in Istanbul.

Following the success of “Habitat II Summit”, the Rumeli Building was built in order to meet the additional needs in 2000.

We would like to thank to all those who created it, who built it and who kept it alive…