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 Paolo 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 Centre were laid by “Dr. Lutfi Kirdar”, 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. Lutfi Kirdar”. But Mr. Kirdar 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 Centre 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. Lutfi Kirdar” 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 Lutfi Kirdar Sports and Exhibition Centre” on February 17th, 1988.
“Istanbul Lutfi Kirdar Sports and Exhibition Centre” 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 Centre” and started to serve for the tourism sector under the name “Istanbul Lutfi Kirdar International Convention and Exhibition Centre - ICEC”. “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…