A Brief Guide to Konya, Mevlana Rumi’s Resting Place

Experience the devotional ceremony of the whirling dervishes, visit the tomb of Mevlana Rumi and explore centuries-old ancient towns from Konya, a hidden cultural gem. It’s just three hours south of Ankara, the country’s capital.

While most visitors to Turkey only know the most popular places such as Istanbul or Cappadocia, we recommend taking a trip to Konya. It is located in central Turkey and considered one of its most conservative cities. It’s a city that has historical sights, religiously significant monuments and remnants of the Seljuk empire. And it’s one of central Anatolia’s largest and continuously inhabited cities. Moreover, it was also known for its beautiful earthy coloured carpets that were quite popular in Europe. In fact, it was Marco Polo who made it known that carpets in Konya are quite distinct and beautiful in his travel writing. 

Today, of course, it’s a bustling city that blends old and new! It has an expansive park, an ancient bazaar and even a butterfly sanctuary.

A Seljuk City

Konya was the capital of the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum that existed between 1000s to the late 1200s. The city is the best place to see Seljuk architecture that date to that time. The sultanate conquered and controlled most of central Anatolia, which was then called ‘Rum’, meaning ‘Roman’. You can see Seljuk works all the way in Selçuk city in the Aegean province of Izmir today. 

This was also the time when the Mongol Empire was at its peak. To escape the Mongol onslaught, intellectuals, artists and theologians from the Middle East moved to Konya. Among them was the Sufi scholar, Rumi’s father Bahaeddin Veled. He moved from Balkh, Afghanistan to Konya. In fact, Rumi, whose original name is Jalal al-Din Muhammad Balkhi, later gets his name from the land he grew up on, meaning ‘from Rum’ (Anatolia).

The Seljuks used Persian as the court language even though they were from Central Asia and of Turkic origin. It’s one reason why we see Persian used in Rumi’s poetry and works, although there is also some Greek, Arabic and Turkish.

They built stunning architecture, castles, caravanserais called hans and bazaars along the Silk Road from Capppadocia to Konya and beyond. Their primary material was carved stone for ornamental designs, found in all structures throughout their kingdom. These include the Alaeddin mosque, the Alanya castle, and religious schools called ‘Medrese‘ such as the Karatay Medrese, which is now a museum with an exhibit of beautiful tiles and has a beautiful tiled ceiling too. It was built by Celaleddin Karatay, then governor of the city. You can learn more about the beautiful painted tiles of Turkey in is the place.