Back in October, we did an overnight trip to Konya, about 3 hours from Ankara. Konya was never really on my radar for visiting. But then the kids took an online course on Neolithic sites and Çatalhöyük was one of the sites in Turkey. I researched and discovered it was just 40 minutes outside of Konya and therefore very easy for us to visit!
Saturday morning, we drove to Çatalhöyük and toured that. I wrote about that in this blog post. Then we headed to the Hilton Garden Inn in Konya to check in and park our car. It was about 3 when we left the hotel to head to the Mevlana Museum, just down the road. Enter from here. This museum is a combination of whirling dervish museum and the mausoleum to revered Sufi mystic and poet Rumi. The grounds were pretty and the inside of the building was very elaborate. It was fairly crowded inside, as Rumi’s tomb is a top site. There was a nice museum gift shop and little cafe. We had a treat and drink and did some shopping. Definitely worth popping into if you like whirling dervishes and/or Rumi!
Our next stop was the Panorama Museum, which was between the Mevlana Museum and our hotel. It has displays and a large panoramic scene of life in Konya during the Ottoman era. They also had a courtyard with models of Mevlevi Lodge from around the world. We also enjoyed the art work and photography in the halls.
By this time, it was time for an early dinner before the whirling dervish performance. We ate at Hasan Şendağlı Yağ Somunu & Etliekmek, very near our hotel and the performance site. The food was delicious and we tried etliekmek, which literally means meat with bread. It’s like lahmacun and is a thin flat bread with a ground meat topping. It is a popular local dish in this region. We also had yağ somunu, which is similar to a stuffed pide or flatbread sandwich with bread on top and bottom and melted cheese and fillings inside. Delicious!
Then we headed to the Mevlana Cultural Center. This is not to be confused with the Mevlana Museum. The cultural center is where they hold the whirling dervish performances. It is immediately across the street from the Hilton Garden Inn. The performance was at 7 pm on Saturday. I am not sure if they have it other nights as well. I’d guess yes during high season. We got there about 6 pm. They had little stalls and a small cafe. We bought tickets as soon as the ticket stand opened and headed in to get the best seats. We chose to be down low, across from where the dervishes entered. That seemed to be a popular spot.
The show was awesome! We had seen whirling dervishes in Egypt and these were very different. In Egypt, they are very colorful, with many instruments, and it is more playful. The dervishes clearly are having fun and will smile and interact a bit with each other and the crowd. In Turkey, and especially in Konya, it is very much a religious event. They start in black and then pull off their cloaks to reveal all white. They are very serious and the dance is much more structured and formal. The show lasts amount 75 minutes. The spinning is still amazing and I am glad we went, but I do prefer the Egyptian style! If you want to read about the Egyptian style, go here.
After the show, we headed back to the hotel room as we’d had a long day at that point and the kids were tired. We had a suite in the hotel with a king bed in the bedroom and a pull out sofa in the living room.
Sunday morning, we headed off to explore more. We had a 30 minute walk to the Sahip Ata Museum, which was in an interesting backside of a mosque and had various Islamic artifacts. The mosque was built in 1258, destroyed in a fire in 1871, and rebuilt. Just around the corner was the Konya Archaeological Museum. This museum had a large number of artifacts from Çatalhöyük, which was great to see after seeing the site the previous day. It also had Greek and Roman artifacts. It is not very big, but worth seeing, particularly if you had gone to Çatalhöyük.
From there, it was a 10 minute walk to the Museum of Stone and Wood Art. The building is from the 13th century and is fascinating itself. Inside were many stone and wooden artifacts and art. Across from the museum is Alaaddin Hill Park. Unfortunately, there was no playground, but it was a nice space to run around (and a big hill to climb). It had some good views.
At that point, it was a 30 minute walk back to the hotel to grab the car and head out. We drove to Neriman Usta Etliekmek Izgara for lunch, which is right near the butterfly gardens. It had your basic grilled Turkish meats and etliekmek.
The Konya Tropikal Kelebek Bahçesi is a beautiful indoors butterfly tropical garden. It is very popular! We had a small wait to buy tickets and enter. It is a one way path through the different levels of the garden. I was very impressed with all the water features and the multi-level aspect of it. The flowers and butterflies were excellent. Highly recommend!
Next to the butterfly garden is the large Kelebekler Vadisi Çicek Bahçesi, a park with a massive playground. We didn’t explore the rest of the park, but the kids LOVED the playground. It was incredibly cool and different from your typical playground. It had these massive climbing structures and huge slides. They could have spent a lot longer there than we’d planned!
We left about 3 pm and got home about 6 pm, just in time for dinner and to get ready for the week.