Mevlevi Whirling Dervish Hall Istanbul
The Mevlevi or Whirling Dervish are synonymous with Turkey. Therefore, no trip to Istanbul would be complete without witnessing one of these mesmerizing performances. The Galata Mevlevihanesi or Mevlevi Whirling Dervish Hall, located just south of Tünel Square at the southern end of Beyoğlu's popular İstiklal Caddesi, is the best place to go. The Mevlevi still whirl here on a somewhat irregular schedule, but you can usually count on a 17:00 (5:00 pm) performance both Saturday and Sunday nights during the high tourist season. To be sure of getting tickets, stop by the museum during the day, where someone is usually sat outside selling tickets to that evening's performance. The Mevlevi or Whirling Dervish are followers of Mevlâna Jelaleddin Rumî, an Islamic poet and mystic philosopher during the 13th century. Their spellbinding worship service, the Mevlevi sema, sees men in long white robes whirling gracefully for up to a quarter hour at a time to the drone of ancient Islamic hymns. The sema is derived from Rumî's habit of occasionally whirling in ecstatic joy in the streets of Konya, capital of the Seljuk Turkish Sultanate of Rum, and his home for the greater part of his life. It is perhaps the most familiar aspect of Sufism or Islamic mysticism. After the death of Rumî in 1273, the Mevlevi order spread throughout the Seljuk and Ottoman empires, but eventually all orders were closed shortly after the foundation of the Turkish Republic. Instead, the Mevlevi were allowed to reform as a cultural organization and permitted to perform as such to this day.