4 Places In Konya To See The Sufi Whirling Dervishes In Turkey

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Post author Nicky

Written by our local expert Nicky

Nicky, originally from the UK, is now a local in Turkey. She moved to Marmaris, Türkiye for love 12 years ago and is now your Turkey travel planner.

The Turkish city of Konya is a beautiful and cultural city located in the center of Turkey. It’s one of those cities that many people miss because it’s not so close to the spots that most people go to routinely, such as Istanbul, Izmir, and the south coast holiday resorts.

However, Konya is just three hours by road from the capital city of Ankara, and it’s easily connected to all major cities via air.

The reason I’m telling you how easy it is to get to the ancient city of Konya is that it’s well worth a visit – to visit the famous Whirling Dervishes, if nothing else.

Turkey Travel Blog_4 Places In Konya To See Sufi Whirling Dervishes

What Are the Whirling Dervishes?

With roots dating back to the 13th century, this Sufi mystic practice has been mesmerizing locals and tourists alike for centuries.

The Whirling Dervishes are members of the Mevlevi Order, a Sufi Muslim religious order founded by the followers of the 13th-century Persian poet and mystic Jalaluddin Rumi. They are known for their mesmerizing religious ritual called the Sema, which involves swirling and whirling in a meditative dance.

The Whirling Dervishes wear a distinctive white gown (symbolizing death) and a tall hat (symbolizing the tombstone of the ego).

Mevlana Rumi’s teachings emphasized the unity of all beings with the divine, and his followers, known as the Mevlevi, sought to attain spiritual enlightenment through music, poetry, and whirling dance.

Whirling Dance & Music At A Sema Ceremony

Nightlife In Istanbul - Whirling Dervish_Turkey

Central to the Whirling Dervishes’ tradition is the Sema reigious ceremony, a display of spiritual devotion and inner exploration. The Sema is a profoundly symbolic performance, where the dervishes whirl rhythmically in an anti-clockwise direction, symbolizing the orbit of the planets around the sun and the ever-turning cycles of life.

The whirling dance represents the dervishes’ spiritual journey towards a state of higher consciousness and union with the divine. Their flowing, long white robes symbolize spiritual purity, and their conical hats, called sikke, represent the tombstone of the ego, reminding the dervishes of the importance of humility and selflessness in their quest for enlightenment.

Accompanying the Whirling Dervishes’ dance is traditional Turkish music. The ney, a reed flute, takes center stage, representing the voice of the divine, while various other instruments, such as the kudu (drums) and tanbur (long-necked lute), also feature.

For those lucky enough to watch a performance, the combination of swirling dancers and enchanting melodies creates a profoundly moving and meditative performance.

The Spiritual Journey

A man in a black robe kneels on a wooden floor - the Whirling Dervishes in Konya.

The Whirling Dervishes’ practice is not just a dance; it is a spiritual journey, a path of self-discovery and transformation. Through the Sema, the dervishes strive to achieve a state of ecstasy known as semazenlik, where they surrender themselves entirely to the divine presence within and around them.

The spinning motion induces a trance-like state, enabling the dervishes to detach from distractions and enter a meditative and contemplative state of mind. It is within this state that they seek spiritual enlightenment, cultivating a deep sense of inner peace, harmony, and connection with the divine.

Where To See A Whirling Dervish Ceremony When You Visit Konya

Experiencing the Whirling Dervishes’ Sema ceremony in person is an unforgettable and profoundly moving experience. Konya, being the birthplace and spiritual center of this tradition, offers a variety of venues where visitors can witness this captivating performance.

Of course, you can see Whirling Dervishes in other places around Turkey, particularly at the Galata Mevlevihanesi Müzesi in Istanbul. However, if you want a truly traditional experience and you want to see a performance in the place it was born, it has to be Konya city in Turkey.

Here are five places you can catch a traditional performance that is sure to leave you amazed. First, let’s start with the most traditional of them all.

1. Mevlana Museum & Mausoleum Of Rumi

Aziziye, Mevlana Cd. No:1, 42030 Karatay/Konya

Whirling Dervosh - Mevlana Museum & Mausoleum Of Rumi

The Mevlana Museum in Konya, Turkey, is one of the most spiritual places in the world. It serves as a tribute to the legacy of Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi, founder of the Whirling Dervishes, and it is also his final resting place. If you can, this is the best place to see a performance, and it’s considered its spiritual home.

The museum is located in the heart of Konya and occupies the historic site of Mevlana’s mausoleum, also known as the Green Dome. As you approach the museum, you can’t help but be awe-struck by the amazing architecture, with intricate patterns and a beautifully serene atmosphere. It’s incredibly peaceful inside, too, which serves as the best backdrop for a performance.

The museum houses an impressive collection of relics, manuscripts, and artifacts that offer a glimpse into the life and teachings of Mevlana Rumi.

Of course, the major highlight of visiting the Mevlana Museum is witnessing the Whirling Dervishes. Performances take place every Saturday and on Thursdays during the summer season.

The museum is also home to beautifully landscaped gardens and a reflection pool. Spending a little time walking around the exterior of the museum is a wonderful idea and will give you an even more serene experience.

Due to its importance, the Mevlana Museum hosts various cultural events and festivals throughout the year to celebrate the life and teachings of Rumi. These events attract visitors from all around the world, and you can find more information online prior to your visit.

When visiting the Mevlana Museum for a performance, it’s a good idea to book your ticket ahead of time. You can do this by visiting the museum itself beforehand, or you can book a tour online, which will give you more information and background history into what you’re seeing. These tours may or may not include a performance and may simply be a tour of the museum itself. However, if you book directly with the museum for a performance, you’ll save money as tickets can be as little as 50-100 Lira.

2. Karatay Medrese

Ferhuniye, 42040 Selçuklu/Konya

This historical complex, built in 1251, houses a stunning Seljuk period medrese (theological school), which is now a museum. During the summer season, you can enjoy Whirling Dervish performances in the beautifully decorated courtyard, providing a unique atmosphere for the experience. However, it’s a good idea to check ahead of your visit when these performances are; they’re not as regular as they are at the Mevlana Museum.

3. Ince Minare Museum

Hamidiye, Alaaddin Blv., 42060 Selçuklu/Konya

Ince Minare Museum lit up at night, creating a mesmerizing sight in Konya

Formerly a mosque, this architectural gem now serves as a museum and occasionally hosts Whirling Dervish performances. The serene ambiance and intricate designs of the building add an extra touch of beauty to the spiritual rituals. Again, performances are occasional, but checking online prior to your visit will tell you all you need to know.

4. Selimiye Mosque

Aziziye, Müze Alanı Cd. No:5, 42030 Karatay/Konya

One of the largest mosques in Konya, dating back to the 16th century, Selimiye Mosque occasionally arranges special events where Whirling Dervishes perform inside the mosque. The combination of the dervish ceremony and the grandeur of the mosque creates an unforgettable experience.

Of course, you can visit the mosque regardless of whether there is a performance or not. Simply remember mosque etiquette at all times. Also, remember this is a large and working mosque, so there will be times when it is closed for prayers. There is no entrance fee, however any donations are greatly received and will go toward the upkeep of this historic mosque.

Remember to check the schedules for these venues in advance, as Whirling Dervish performances may not be available every day.

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Dos & Don’ts Of Attending The Sufi Dervishes

A group of Whirling Dervishes, dancing in front of a building in Konya.

When watching the whirling dervishes in Konya, it’s important to respect their traditions and follow a few dos and don’ts to fully appreciate their art and culture.


Here are some guidelines to keep in mind:


  • Do dress modestly. As the ceremony is a religious and spiritual practice, it is respectful to dress in modest and conservative attire
  • Do arrive early. The Whirling Dervishes performances can draw large crowds, so it’s advisable to arrive ahead of time to secure a good seat
  • Do maintain silence and be mindful. The ceremony is a form of meditation and solemn experience, so it’s important to be quiet and mindful throughout the performance
  • Do turn off your phone. To avoid any distractions or disruptions during the ceremony, switch off or put your phone on silent mode
  • Do ask questions if allowed. If there is an opportunity to ask questions or interact with the dervishes or knowledgeable guides, feel free to inquire about their practices, beliefs, and history


  • Don’t use flash photography. Flash photography can be disruptive to the performers and distract other audience members. Respect the moment and refrain from using flash when taking photos
  • Don’t make loud noises or talk during the performance. Since the ceremony is a spiritual and meditative experience, it’s important to be quiet and avoid any disruptive behaviors that can disturb others
  • Don’t touch or interrupt the performers. The dervishes engage in a deeply spiritual practice during their whirling, so it is essential to respect their personal space and not interfere with their movements
  • Don’t bring food or drinks into the performance space. To keep the atmosphere serene and respectful, it’s best not to bring any food or drinks into the area where the ceremony is held
  • Don’t leave abruptly. To show your respect for the performers and the art form, it’s polite to wait until the ceremony has officially concluded before leaving

Remember, watching the Whirling Dervishes in Konya is a unique cultural experience. By adhering to these dos and don’ts, you can fully immerse yourself in their traditions and enjoy the performance to the fullest.

Remember, watching the Whirling Dervishes in Konya is a unique cultural experience. By adhering to these dos and don’ts, you can fully immerse yourself in their traditions and enjoy the performance to the fullest.

Konya’s Whirling Dervish FAQs


A group of men wearing white robes performing a traditional Mevlana dance at the festival in Konya.

What are Whirling Dervishes?

Whirling Dervishes are practitioners of the Mevlevi Order, a mystical Islamic Sufi tradition. They engage in a mesmerizing spinning dance called Sama, which is symbolic of their religious devotion.

Where can I watch the Whirling Dervishes?

The best place to observe this captivating sema ritual is in Konya, Turkey, at the Mevlana Culture Centre, also known as the Mevlevi Dervish Lodge. This historic complex is dedicated to the memory of Rumi, the beloved poet and founder of the Mevlevi Order.

When are the Whirling Dervish performances held?

Performances are generally held on specific days throughout the year, usually on religious occasions or special events. It’s recommended to check the Mevlana Culture Centre’s schedule beforehand to ensure your visit aligns with performance; however, during the summer months, they are generally held weekly.

How long does a Whirling Dervish performance last?

The duration of a typical Whirling Dervish performance is around one hour. However, keep in mind that the actual Sama dance itself lasts for roughly 30 minutes, as the Dervishes enter a trance-like state during that time.

Are there any restrictions or guidelines to follow during the performance?

Yes, there are a few guidelines to ensure a peaceful and respectful experience. Visitors are often asked to remove their shoes before entering the performance area, and it is customary to remain quiet and turn off electronic devices during the ceremony. Photography or video recording is generally not allowed during the performance, but you can capture the beautiful surroundings before or after.

Can I participate in the Whirling Dervish dance?

Generally, participation in the Whirling Dervish dance is restricted to dedicated practitioners who have undergone years of training. As a visitor, you can observe the ritual and appreciate its spiritual significance.

Is there an admission fee to watch the Whirling Dervishes?

Yes, there is usually an admission fee to attend the performances. The cost is minimal, and the proceeds often go towards the preservation and maintenance of the building.

Are there any dress code requirements?

While there is no strict dress code, it is advisable to dress modestly out of respect for the religious nature of the ceremony. Avoid wearing revealing or inappropriate clothing, and consider bringing a shawl or scarf to cover your shoulders if needed.

Can I interact with the Whirling Dervishes after the performance?

It is common for visitors to meet and greet the Whirling Dervishes after the performance. They are usually quite friendly and receptive to talking about their traditions, so feel free to approach them respectfully and ask any questions you may have.

Final Words On Sufism And The Whirling Dervishes Of The Mevlevi

The Whirling Dervishes

Visiting the Whirling Dervishes in Konya itself is a wonderful experience, and if you’re going to do it anywhere, it’s best to go to the official place. Sure, you’ll find performances all over Turkey, particularly in Istanbul, but these aren’t as authentic as what you’ll find in Konya.

This is where the entire practice was created and the final resting place of its founder, Rumi. The Mevlana Museum is, without a doubt, the best place to catch a performance, and there are many other things to explore there too, not least the beautiful gardens. However, many other places around Konya also have occasional performances you can watch.

Konya itself is a very cultural and historic city, and it’s somewhere you’ll see a totally different side to Turkey if you’re only used to beach resorts. You’ll meet wonderfully friendly people, taste amazing food, and you can say you’ve been somewhere truly authentic.

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