Europe Travel News

Spin along with Turkey's whirling dervishes

A whirlwind tour of Turkey this December should include Konya's Mevlana Festival, wherein the brotherhood of whirling dervishes perform their iconic spinning ritual for a full week in honor of a mystic philosopher who believed in the spirituality of dance.

Powerful prayer
Mevlana was a 13th-century Sufist poet and philosopher who believed that closeness with God could be achieved through dance, according to Lonely Planet. His followers are the Mevlevi, also known as the whirling dervishes, and their most iconic tradition is a hypnotic spinning dance that's performed throughout the Islamic world.

Part of what makes the brotherhood's dance entrancing is the members' wardrobe. As they spin endlessly in circles, their long, white, flowing robes billow out from the waist, making them resemble human tops. Their distinct, conical felt hats only contribute to this feeling.

While the famous dance can be seen throughout the year, the whirling dervish festival in Konya is a unique event capped with a special dance to Mevlana's spiritual union with Allah. Unlike the faster twirling of the other dervish dances performed throughout the week, the festival finale is a slow, trancelike spin wherein dancers cast off black shrouds to the intoned prayers and verses of scholars, the beat of kettledrums and the whisper of flutes.

Exploring Konya
?While the festival is but one week of the year, there is still plenty of opportunity to see whirling dervishes every Saturday night in the province. To get a better undertsanding of the brotherhood and its practices, the Mevlana Museum offers a collection of artifacts and preserved dervish sleeping cells, where members of the brotherhood lived, slept and prayed.

The museum, as described by The Telegraph, is a beautiful and somber place, with light filtered through stained-glass windows spilling onto Melvana's sarcophagus and his son's tomb. Also connected to the museum is a mosque, where travelers can marvel at delicate crystal lamps, ancient prayer rugs and strands of Mohammed's beard scented with rose.

Celebrating with respect
Getting festive in Konya may be difficult but its not impossible. As one of Turkey's most intensely religious provinces, its hotels and restaurants do not serve alcohol, according to Frommer's. However, it still has one of the highest rates of alcohol consumption in the country. Travelers wishing to get in the spirit need only remember to be respectful of the region's traditions, including wearing appropriate dress and observing calls to prayer, which send the city into silence throughout the day.

Recommended Tours

Turkey Highlights

7 days from $2,583 pp*
Custom Private Tour
Gather your courage as you descend into the darkness of the eerie underground cities of Kaymakli and Derinkuyu where Christians fled to escape 7th-century persecution.
More Info

Athens, Mykonos and Santorini Explorer

7 days from $2,303 pp*
Custom Private Tour
Embark on a highlight reel adventure through sun-drenched Greece. Explore Athens, Mykonos and Santorini, and get happily lost in its vast and varied landscape and abundant treasures of antiquity.
More Info

Quintessential England

10 days from $2,970 pp*
Custom Private Tour
Discover the essence of England through its medieval towns and royal castles steeped in history, as well as its cutting-edge art and innovative cultural scenes.
More Info
Kensington Advantage
Personalized itinerary with private guide & driver. Award winning value.
  • Personalized itinerary that fits like a glove
  • Full attention of your own private guide & driver
  • In-country offices for 24/7 peace of mind
  • Multi-award winning
  • 30,000 delighted clients

With the inside track on the new, the old, the off-the-beaten track and the out-of-this-world, you won't find a more knowledgeable team of destination specialists.

Meet Our Experts
Curators of extraordinary experiences, you won't find a more skillful team.
30,000 Delighted Customers
"Kensington, you've done it again...perfection!"

Don't take our word for it.
Here's what our clients say.

"Fabulous trip. Every aspect from the planning to execution was excellent."

Newsletter Subscription
Have our hand picked trips, news & specials delivered to you.
Thank you for signing up!

Your details have been received and processed successfully.
Travel + Leisure : World's Best Award 2014 Family National Geographic Traveler : 50 Tours of a Lifetime Travel Leisure Award 2015