Konya’s Mevlana Museum is in a former monastery constructed around the mausoleum of Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, the peace-loving Persian Sufi poet and mystic who founded the bizarre sect known as the ‘whirling dervishes’ and lived between 1207 and 1273. It is one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations in Turkey, with more than 1.5 million people visiting each year. The highly ornate monastery was built in the 16th century around the 13th-century tomb of Rumi and has slender minarets, several domes and a bright-turquoise tiled tower, which is one of the landmarks of the city. The complex includes prayer rooms, a library stocked with thousands of rare ecclesiastical books and Koran manuscripts, the monks’ cells and kitchens, all situated in manicured gardens full of shrubs, roses and a blue-and-white marble fountain. At the heart of the monastery lies the sarcophagus of Rumi, accompanied by the tombs of his wife, children and several of his followers; it stands in the marble mausoleum built to a design by architect Behrettin Tebrizli in 1274. A small museum is found in the semihane, the hall where the dervishes performed their wild, whirling dances; highlights include a collection of ancient musical instruments, priceless prayer rugs and robes worn by Rumi.
Aziziye Mahallesi, Mevlana Caddesi 1, Konya. Open daily
9am–5.30-pm; admission is free. Women must cover their heads and shoulders; shorts are forbidden. Konya is 262 km (162 miles) south of Ankara and is best accessed by the roads D750 and D715.