|Konya, one of
Turkey's oldest continuously inhabited cities was known as Iconium in
Roman times. The capital of the Seljuk Turks from the 12th to the 13th
centuries, it ranks as one of the great cultural centers of Turkey. During
that period of cultural, political and religious growth, the mystic
Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi founded a Sufi Order known in the West as the
Whirling Dervishes. The striking green-tiled mausoleum of Mevlana is
Konya's most famous building. Attached to the mausoleum, the former
dervish seminary serves now as a museum housing manuscripts of Mevlana's
works and various artifacts related to the mysticism of the sect. Every
year, in the first half of December, this still-active religious order
holds a ceremony commemorating the Whirling Dervishes.The controlled,
almost trance-like turning or sema of the white-robed men creates a
mystical experience for the viewer.
Mevlana Mosoleum Complex, Konya
Mystical Dervish Ceremony, "Sema",
built on the site of the ancient Konya citadel in 1220, during the reign
of the great Seijuk sultan Alaeddin Keykubat, commands Konya's skyline. To
one side of the mosque are the remains of the Seljuk Imperial Palace. The
Karatay Medrese, now a museum, displays bold and striking Seljuk ceramics.
On the other side of the mosque, the Ince Minareli Medrese of 1258 is
remarkable for its marvelous baroque Seljuk portal.
|Other Seljuk works
include the Sircali Medrese and the Sahip Ata Complex.Visitors find
Konya's Archaeological Museum of exceptional interest. The collection of
the Koyunoglu Museum is a varied one; among its displays one is devoted to
natural history and another to old kilims. Within the museum complex,the
restored Izzettin Koyunoglu house illustrates the way of life of a
prosperous Konya family.
Sille, 10 km north of Konya, has the Byzantine Aya Eleni church and
several rock chapels with frescoes. Aksehir, to the northwest, is known
throughout Turkey as the birthplace of the 13th century humorist Nasrettin
Hoca, whose mausoleum stands in the town. The 13th century Ulu Mosque and
the Altinkale Mescidi are other monuments worth seeing; the Sahip Ata
Mausoleum has been converted into the town's museum.