4 star rating: Recommended 26 Reviews

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  • Location: Istanbul, Turkey
  • Duration:  90 minutes (approx.)
See Turkey’s whirling dervishes perform a traditional ‘sema’ Mevleviye dance ceremony at the iconic Hodjapasha Dance Theater in Istanbul! The centuries-old ceremony is a spiritual performance featuring graceful choreography, Persian chanting and traditional Turkish music, played by the on-site orchestra. Enjoy a drink and some Turkish delight from the bar, and then sit captivated as the dervishes glide around the stage in their eye-catching robes; it’s the perfect evening out for a taste of age-old Istanbul culture.


  • 1.5-hour whirling dervish performance in Istanbul
  • Enjoy a drink and some Turkish delight as the show starts
  • Watch the UNESCO-listed ceremonial dance inside the Hodjapasha Dance Theater
  • Be captivated as the semazens dance and chant their way around the stage
  • Listen to traditional Persian and Turkish music from a live orchestra

Recent Photos of This Tour

What You Can Expect

Whirling Dervish Show in Istanbul

Whirling Dervish Show in Istanbul

Head inside Hodjapasha Dance Theater in the Sirkeci neighborhood of Istanbul, and enjoy a drink and some Turkish delight from the bar. The building itself dates back to the 15th century, when it was once home to Turkish baths, and is well known in the city as one of the top places to see traditional Turkish dances and ceremonies.

After enjoying your beverage, take a seat in the main hall to watch your 1.5-hour show, consisting of a 15-minute Turkish classical music concert followed by a 45-minute Mevleviye sema dance. Performed by a troupe of semazens (or whirling dervishes), the entrancing ceremonial dance is believed to date back as far as 800 years – a fact that helped the dance land a spot on UNESCO’s Intangible World Heritage List.

Watch as the whirling dervishes glide around the stage in a flurry of movement, dancing in time to Persian and traditional Turkish music played by the theater’s orchestra. The flute, kettledrum and cymbal music is accompanied by songs and the chanting of ancient Persian poems and prayers.

The full performance lasts roughly 1.5 hours, and when the dancing finishes you can stay inside the venue to enjoy more drinks, if you wish. All additional food and drinks are at your own expense.

Customer Reviews

5 star rating: Highly Recommended July 2015

This tour was amazing!

5 star rating: Highly Recommended June 2015

We loved the whirling dervish show after we found the theater. The theater was tucked away on a small street several streets removed from the main throughfare in the area. Precise directions to the theater from some landmark such as the Aya Sophia church would have been nice. The performance was mesmerizing and we enjoyed it and the accompanying music very much.

5 star rating: Highly Recommended June 2015

Worth watching

5 star rating: Highly Recommended May 2015

Make sure you get good directions! We walked for nearly an hour trying to find it! Not for children. This is a spiritual observance and is not a show. No photography and applause is not appropriate. We thoroughly enjoyed it. Time for dinner afterwards.

5 star rating: Highly Recommended April 2015

The tour was excellent! And the guide just perfect! Highly recommended!

5 star rating: Highly Recommended April 2015

Well worth going to, once we'd found the location! The booklet, along with the information projected onto the walls, provided ample information about the performance.

5 star rating: Highly Recommended March 2015

Very impressive and exciting to learn about and share this experience.



5 star rating: Highly Recommended July 2014

This was very moving and mesmerizing. I was expecting something more "touristy" and "folksy" and I was surprised by the seriousness and commitment of the dancers. I found out during this evening that this Sema ceremony was a tradition and act of faith, meaningful of spiritual ascent. It was amusing to learn that the high hat was symbolizing the tomb headstone of one's ego.Definitely high in symbolic

5 star rating: Highly Recommended July 2014

This is simply one of those things you have to truly experience to understand. I booked our tickets through Viator and we got up front seats! We honestly had Dervish skirts brushing our legs as they twirled. Believe me, this isn't merely men twirling around, it's a meditative state they enter....and they DON'T move from their spot as they spin....until they intend to. It's really a wonder to watch.

5 star rating: Highly Recommended July 2014

Excellent show,

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Tour code: 5744ISTDERVISH


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