Whirling Dervishes & Camel Hotel – Konya & Sultanhani

We visit Konya on our 2024 small group tour

Konya has a rich history and cultural significance, often referred to as the “city of whirling dervishes” due to its historical association with the Mevlevi Order, a Sufi sect that practices the spiritual dance known as the “whirling dervish” dance.

One of the most prominent landmarks in Konya is the Mevlana Museum, which is the mausoleum of Jalaluddin Rumi, a 13th-century Persian poet, Islamic jurist, and theologian. His teachings and poetry have had a profound influence on Islamic philosophy and mysticism. The annual commemoration of his death, known as the “Şeb-i Arus” (Wedding Night), draws visitors and pilgrims from all over the world.

Journal entry:

20 Sep Thursday  Kusadasi to Konya

Early start (8:30), leaving at the same time as all the tour buses.  They arrived late yesterday & they’d been at the hotel only about 12 hours.  Long day ahead for us.  Passed a large, dry salt lake, to right, jumbled volcanic hills to left. Then broke out to broad steppes, isolated villages providing the only trees in sight for miles.  As we come over the top of a small ridge, we’re suddenly confronted by the city of Konya, spreading to the horizons.  Konya (ancient Iconium) was the capital of the Selcuk empire. Arrive about 2 pm. Visit the Shrine of Mevlana of Whirling Dervish fame.  Beautifully set amid calligraphic inscriptions and wall paintings, Mevlana and his son lie under large catafalques.  Other members of his family are buried nearby.  Displays include hairs from the beard of Mohammed, staff of Moses, David’s sword  and beautiful Kurans from a wide period of time.

Visited the Selimiye Mosque, built 1567, in old style with narthex of semi domes on the front. Bought some coin pendants with old Ottoman turgas in shop otherwise devoted to knives – from tiny pocket knives to large blades 3 feet long – Agir Kilij and Yataghans among other famous Ottoman swords.  .

Lunch at a nearby restaurant with the local specialty – tandur kabob – Lamb boiled, then baked in oven (firin) until it falls apart.  Similar to Moroccan meschoie, and just as delicious. Then back on the road for the final leg to Cappadocia

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Turkey Travel blog

Sultan Hani is a large 13th-century Seljuk caravanserai

located in the town of Sultanhanı, Aksaray Province, Turkey. It is one of the three monumental caravanserais in the neighborhood of Aksaray and is located about 40 km (25 mi) west of Aksaray on the road to Konya. It’s consimdered onof the best examples of Seljuk architecture.

The front wall, which is 50 meters wide, projects a 13-meter-high marble gate known as a pishtaq, which is used to enter the khan from the east. A plaiting with a geometric pattern and muqarnas corbels adorn the pointed arch that encloses the gate. A 44 × 58 m open courtyard that was used in the summer is accessible through this main gate. On the opposite side of the open courtyard, a similarly ornamented archway with a muqarnas niche, joggled voussoirs, and geometric patterns that interlock leads to a covered courtyard (iwan), which was used in the winter. The covered hall’s central aisle features a barrel-vaulted ceiling with transverse ribs and a little tower with a dome on top. There is an oculus in the dome to offerair and light in the hall.

The earliest example in Turkey, a square stone kiosk-mosque (köşk mescidi), is situated in the center of the outside courtyard. The mosque is supported by four sculpted barrel-vaulted arches on the second floor. The mosque’s modest prayer room is illuminated by two windows and features a lavishly adorned mehrab (Qibla direction marker). On either side of the interior courtyard, there were stables with apartments above.

The Syrian architect Muhammad ibn Khalwan al-Dimashqi (Dimashqi means from Damascus) constructed this fortified structure in 1229 (dated by an inscription), during the rule of the Seljuk sultan Kayqubad I (r. 1220–1237), along the Uzun Yolu (lit. “long road”) trade route connecting Konya to Aksaray and continuing into Persia. During the time of Sultan Kaykhusraw III, it was partially destroyed by fire, but was afterwards repaired and expanded by the governor Seraceddin Ahmed Kerimeddin bin El Hasan.

A caravanserai (also spelled caravansary or caravanserai) is a type of roadside inn or rest stop that was historically used by travelers, especially in the regions of the Middle East, North Africa, and parts of Asia. These structures were crucial for trade and travel along ancient trade routes like the Silk Road and served as a safe haven for merchants, pilgrims, and their caravans. At their height caravansri wereplaced the distance a camel could walk in a day (15-20 miles)

Key features of a caravanserai typically included:

Courtyard: Caravanserais often had a central courtyard where travelers and their animals could rest. The courtyard provided a secure area for people to stay and for animals like camels and horses to be tethered.

Accommodations: Inside the caravanserai, there were rooms or chambers for travelers to sleep or rest. These rooms were often very basic and sometimes included open-air sleeping areas on upper floors.

Storage Facilities: Caravanserais had storage areas for goods and supplies. This allowed merchants to securely store their merchandise while resting.

Security: Caravanserais were designed with security in mind. They often had strong walls and guarded entrances to protect travelers and their belongings from bandits and other dangers.

Basic Amenities: Some caravanserais offered basic amenities such as food, water, and even simple medical services. These services were crucial for travelers on long journeys.

Architectural Design: Many caravanserais featured distinctive architectural elements, often with an ornate entrance gate. These structures were sometimes elaborately decorated, reflecting the cultural and architectural influences of the region.

Caravanserais played a vital role in facilitating trade and cultural exchange between different regions and civilizations during ancient and medieval times. They allowed travelers to rest, recuperate, and exchange goods and information along the various trade routes that crisscrossed the continents.

By Cascoly

I've been exploring and leading trips for over 40 years. climbing & trekkng in the Alps, Andes, North American mountain ranges and the Himalaya. I'm retired from mountaineering now but world travels in Europe, Africa & Asia continue to expand my portfolio. Besides private travel, I now focus on escorting trips to India & Turkey. Other interests include wide reading in history and vegetable gardening / cooking. You can download digital images here, or find images at https://steve-estvanik.pixels.com. We have many thousands of images we haven't displayed yet; so, if you have a special need or request please contact us