Turkey, Konya (August 2017)

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Konya is perhaps most famous as the town where Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Balkhi (1207-1273), now better known as Mevlana (″Our Master″) or Rumi, founded the whirling dervish sect. Born in Balkh in present-day northern Afghanistan, Mevlana is regarded as one of the greatest Persian poets and Sufi mystics. The Mevlana Museum, the former lodge of the whirling dervishes, is much more than a museum; it is considered a holy place that attracts huge crowds of Muslims, not only from Turkey, but also from Iran and other countries in the Middle-East and Central Asia. Konya is a conservative, but pleasant city. Mosques of very diverse styles dot the city.

 

Mevlana Museum:

 

- Main building with its distinctive conical dome covered with turquoise faience.

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- Domes and chimneys above dervish cells seen from the courtyard.

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- Fountains in the courtyard.

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- Sarcophagus of Mevlana, topped by his turban, in the main building.

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- Other sarcophagi of eminent dervishes.

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- In the Ceremonial Hall (Semahane), which used to be the setting for the whirling ceremonies.

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- Ceiling of the Semahane.

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- Scenes of everyday dervish life.

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Aziziye Cami, originally constructed in 1671-1676 and rebuilt in 1876 in unusual baroque style, following a fire in 1867:

 

- The mosque has two minarets with sheltered balcony.

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- Inside the mosque. Note the highly decorated mihrab (niche pointing toward Mecca) and minbar (pulpit).

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Another mosque, another style. Here, Kapi Cami (1658), with its multiple ceiling cupola that challenge human three-dimensional perception.

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Serafeddin Cami (1636).

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Mihrab decorated with blue tiles in the Alaeddin Cami built in the 12th and 13th centuries (Seljuq period).

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Karatay Madrasa, built in 1251 by Celaleddin Karatay, a statesman and commander who served four Seljuk Sultans:

 

- Roof in the main room.

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- Ceramic tiles exposed in the madrassa. They have been excavated from the Seljuk Kubad Abad Palace (13th century) located on the shore of Lake Beysehir, some 80km west of Konya. Surprisingly, these tiles represent humans and animals, as such representations are proscribed in Islam.

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Byzantine church of Hagia Eleni in the village of Sille, close to Konya. (Cappadocian Greek language was spoken in Sille for centuries until 1923, when the entire Greek population left Sille under a population swap agreement between Greece and Turkey.)

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