Tailor made Konya Vacations, Tours and Trips
Konya, historically Iconium, city, central Turkey. The city lies at an elevation of about 3,370 feet (1,027 metres) on the southwest edge of the central Anatolian Plateau and is surrounded by a narrow fertile plain. It is backed by Bozkır Mountain on the west and enclosed by the interior edges of the central ranges of the Taurus Mountains farther south. Pop. (2000) 742,690; (2013 est.) 1,107,886.
A more traditional town than many, Konya is famous as being the burial place of Rumi, the esteemed Islamic poet and philosopher and founder of the Mevlevi Order, otherwise known as the Order of the Whirling Dervishes.
Even today, Konya is the most religiously conservative city in Turkey. The city’s history dates back to 3000 BC and it was a prominent settlement for several of the dynasties and empires which followed, eventually becoming the capital of the Sultanate of Rum during the Seljuk era.
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Visiting Konya city
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Top rated tourist attractions in Konya
The symbol of Konya is this tekke (Sufi lodge) complex that holds the tomb of the 13th-century religious leader, philosopher, and poet Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi, who founded the whirling dervish sect of Sufism. The museum is set within lovingly tended rose gardens, which you walk through to the ornate Dervisan Kapisi (Gate of the Dervishes).
Once inside the complex, you enter the Mausoleum, which is the focus of much devotional worship to this day. Mevlana’s Tomb is at the far end, flanked by tombs of close family and followers. The Semahane (hall where dervish ceremonies were performed) is just to the left and contains a museum of religious exhibits.
Across the courtyard from the Mausoleum is the lodge kitchen, which contains dioramas of dervish life and is connected to the Dervish Cells, where Sufi followers would have lived and which now contain exhibits on dervish life.
Tile Museum (Karatay Medresisi)
This old madrassa (theological college) was founded in 1251 by the Seljuk emir Celaleddin Karatay. The building was recently restored and is now an impressive museum showcasing Seljuk enamel tile work.
Although touring a tile museum may sound like a rather niche tourist attraction, the sheer beauty of the building makes this one of the top things to do on a Konya sightseeing itinerary. Its internal walls are covered in gorgeous examples of Seljuk tiling and there are also ceramic exhibits of excavated finds from nearby archaeological sites. In the left-hand room is the tomb of Celaleddin Karatay
Museum of Wooden and Stone Carving (Ince Minare Medrese)
The Ince Minareli Medrese (Seminary of the Slender Minaret) lost the minaret in its name when it was struck by lightning in 1905. The madrassa was built in 1260 for the Seljuk vizier Sahip Ata, and the design features richly-sculpted decoration on the portal. The building is now a museum, with a large collection of Seljuk-era wooden and stone sculptures that include animal reliefs (despite depictions of animals and humans being banned by Islamic law) from the old city walls.
Built on the site of Konya’s former citadel, this park, right in the city center, is the place where Konya locals come to promenade in the evening and sip tea in the gardens. At the foot of the incline up the hill, are the excavation site of Alaeddin Kaykobad’s palace and the remains of the old city wall. On top of the hill is the Alaeddin Camii, built in the 13th century. It was built as a pillared mosque according to Arabic design, with a wooden ceiling supported by 42 antique columns.
Konya Archaeological Museum
Most of Turkey’s archaeology museums have been jazzed up and modernized in the past decade, but not Konya’s museum. This is a dusty old place with poor lighting and information panels that may as well be obsolete. But don’t let that put you off, because the collection is excellent (and if you happen to like these relic museums with their treasure-hunt atmosphere, go now before it gets its much-needed facelift). There is a comprehensive display of finds from the nearby archaeological site of Çatalhöyük and a wonderful collection of intricately decorated Roman sarcophagi.
Standing in the square in front of the Mevlana Museum, this huge domed mosque, commissioned by Sultan Selim II and built between 1566 and 1574, marks the climax of Ottoman mosque architecture. Come to the square in the early evening to get photos of the mosque and Mevlana Museum behind as they are lit up against the dusk sky. Across the main road from the square are a series of outdoor cafés and restaurants, which are a great place to sit down and admire the view of minarets and domes while relaxing with a coffee or tea.
Inside Konya’s bustling bazaar neighborhood, the Aziziye Mosque is one for architecture fans. It was first built in 1676 by the Ottoman court adviser Mustafa Pasa and reconstructed again in 1867 after a fire. Because of this 19th-century restoration, the mosque’s architecture is heavily Baroque-inspired (the style most fashionable at the time), with twin minarets in Rococo style and a brightly painted interior with a Rococo prayer niche. This very European decorative style makes for an interesting contrast with traditional mosque design.
Although there aren’t huge amounts to see, the settlement mound of Çatalhöyük is one of the most important excavation sites in the world. Here, archaeologists have uncovered the largest Neolithic site ever found, with settlement here dating to approximately 9,000 years ago. Excavations are ongoing, and if you visit in summer, you can sometimes watch archaeologists working at the site.
Cute as a button, the former Greek settlement of Sille is a tiny village just on the edge of the city and a favorite destination for day-tripping Konya locals. Two Byzantine churches are here: St. Helena’s and the Küçük Kilise, which have both been recently restored.
Sahib-i Ata Külliyesi
This religious complex comprises a mosque, dervish lodge, türbe, and baths and was built between 1258 and 1283. The grandly ornate portal gate is beautifully decorated, and the mosque interior has a gorgeous blue-tile prayer niche. The dervish lodge, with its beautifully restored blue-tile and red-brick interior, has been made into a museum with an interesting collection of religious artifacts.
On your way to the mosque you’ll pass by the Sirçali Medresi. Built in 1242, this former theological college has some beautiful (but crumbling) examples of tiled decoration on its interior walls and an ornate stalactite portal. It houses a collection of Islamic tombstones, as well as some Hittite funerary urns.
Avid collector Ahmet Izzet Koyunoglu, a member of one of Konya’s oldest families, bequeathed his bizarre and eccentric collection of artifacts, art, ethnography objects, geological items, and just plain stuff, to the city of Konya when he died.
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