The Dance of the Whirling Dervishes (Mevlevihane)

To view more photos and videos of the Mevlevihane, visit the Galata Mevlevihanesi and Hz. Mevlana Türbesi location pages as well as the #Mevlevihanesi and #WhirlingDervish hashtags.

For visitors to Turkey, a glimpse of the Whirling Dervishes or "Mevlevihane" is a must for any sightseeing list. The Dervishes, whose name means ”those who have chosen the road of suffering,” begin each dance by greeting their master then removing a black coat, a symbol of the earthly world, to reveal a white dress that symbolizes purity or "safa." They start to whirl like the planets around the Sun, raising their right hands to the heavens and pointing their left hands to the earthly world.

The best place to witness the Whirling Dervishes is in the city of Konya, at the tomb of Sufi poet Celalatin Rumi who is said to have invented whirling when he first spun himself into trance there in the 13th century. In Istanbul, the Galata Mevlevihanesi is the most famous Mevlevi Whirling Dervish hall. Performances are held there every Sunday evening.

"I opened the book, picking a passage at random, and came across a tale about Alexander the Great. The emperor, as the story went, received as a gift some wondrous glass dishes, he liked the gifts very much, but smashed them all nonetheless. "Why? Are they not beautiful?" he was asked. "Precisely because of that," he answered. "They are so beautiful that it would be hard for me to lose them. And with time they would break, one by one. And I would be sorrier than I am now."

- Meša Selimović, Death and the Dervish

"People became closer to me through conversation. Not all of them, of course. Some are deaf to the words of others; they’re misfortune both for themselves and for everyone else. But one should always try. You’ll ask: Why? For no reason. So there’ll be less silence and emptiness."

- Meša Selimović, Death and the Dervish