9 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Konya
The important religious centre of Konya is a hub crammed with museums and monuments demonstrating Seljuk splendour. Most people make a stop here simply to see the Mevlana Museum and the tomb of the whirling dervish founder Mevlana Rumi who wrote his famed poetry here in the 13th century. But this central Anatolian city is packed full of architectural attractions, mosques and historic medreses that showcase the artistry of the Seljuk sultanate. Anyone with an interest in Turkey's history shouldn't miss a visit here.
1 Mevlana Museum
The symbol of Konya is this tekke (Sufi lodge) complex that holds the tomb of the 13th century religious leader, philosophiser and poet Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi, who founded of the whirling dervish sect of Sufism. The museum is set within lovingly tended rose gardens, which you walk through to the ornate Dervişan Kapısı (Gate of the Dervishes). Once inside the complex you enter the Mausoleum, which is the focus of much devotional worship to this day. Mevlana's Tomb is at the far end, flanked by tombs of close family and followers.
The Semahane (hall where dervish ceremonies were performed) is just to the left and contains a museum of religious exhibits. Across the courtyard from the Mausoleum is the lodge kitchen containing dioramas of dervish life. It is connected to the Dervish Cells where Sufi followers would have lived but now contain exhibits on dervish life.
Location: Mevlana Caddesi
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Konya - TripAdvisor.com
2 Tile Museum (Karatay Medresisi)
This old medrese (theological college) was founded in 1251 by the Seljuk emir Celaleddin Karatay. The building was recently restored and is now an impressive museum showcasing Seljuk enamel tile work. Although a tile museum may sound a rather niche tourist attraction, the sheer beauty of the building makes this a must-do on every Konya sightseeing itinerary. Its internal walls are covered in gorgeous examples of Seljuk tiling; there are also ceramic exhibits of finds excavated from nearby archaeological sites. In the left-hand room is the tomb of Celaleddin Karatay.
Location: Ankara Caddesi
3 Museum of Wooden and Stone Carving (İnce Minare Medresisi)
The İnce Minare Medresesi (Seminary of the Slender Minaret) lost the minaret in its name when it was struck by lightning in 1905. The medrese was built in 1260 for the Seljuk vizier Sahip Ata, and the design features richly sculpted decoration on the portal. The building is now a museum with a large collection of Seljuk-era wooden and stone sculptures that include animal reliefs (despite depictions of animals and humans being banned by Islamic law) from the old city walls.
Location: Adliye Bulvarı
4 Alaeddin Tepe
Built on the site of Konya's former citadel and right in the city centre, this park is the place where Konya locals come to promenade in the evening and sip tea in the gardens. At the foot of the incline up the hill, visitors can find the excavation site of Alaeddin Kaykobad's palace and the remains of the old city wall. On top of the hill is the 13th century Alaeddin Camii, built as a pillared mosque according to Arabic design with a wooden ceiling supported by 42 antique columns.
Location: Off Mevlana Caddesi
5 Archaeological Museum
Most of Turkey's archaeology museums have been jazzed-up and modernised in the past decade - but not Konya's museum. This is a dusty old place with poor lighting and information panels that may as well be obsolete for the use they are. But don't let that put you off because the collection is excellent (and if you happen to like these relic museums with their treasure-hunt atmosphere, go now before it gets its much-needed face-lift). There is a comprehensive display of finds from the nearby archaeological site of Çatalhöyük and a wonderful collection of intricately decorated Roman sarcophagi.
Location: Larende Caddesi
6 Selimiye Mosque
Standing in the square in front of the Mevlana Museum, this huge domed mosque was commissioned by Sultan Selim II. It was built in less than a decade between 1566 and 1574, marking the climax of Ottoman mosque architecture.
Location: Mevlana Caddesi
7 Aziziye Mosque
Inside Konya's bustling bazaar neighbourhood the Aziziye Mosque was first built in 1676 by the Ottoman court adviser Mustafa Paşa. It was reconstructed again in 1867 after a fire. The architecture is baroque inspired, with twin minarets in a rococo style and a brightly painted interior with prayer niche.
Location: Türbe Caddesi
Although there aren't huge amounts to see, the settlement mound of Çatalhöyük is one of the most important excavation sites in the world. Here, archaeologists have uncovered the largest Neolithic site ever found, with settlement here dating to approximately 9,000 years ago. Excavations are on going, and if you visit in summer you can sometimes watch archaeologists working at the site. There is a wonderful little museum at the entry explaining the excavation history and the significance of the site. Then a trail leads you to the twin dig areas (protected under dome shelters) where you can see the deep levels, with clear building outlines, that have been uncovered so far.
Cute as a button and formerly a Greek settlement, Sille is a tiny village just on the edge of the city and a favourite destination for day-tripping Konya locals. There are two Byzantine churches: St Helena's and the Küçük Kilise. The village streets are lined with lovely wooden-beamed houses while the cliff ridge is pockmarked with ancient cave dwellings.
Other Notable Attractions
Built in 1242, this former theological college has some beautiful (but crumbling) examples of tiled decoration on its interior walls and an ornate stalactite portal. It houses a collection of Islamic tombstones as well as some Hittite funerary urns.
Location: Sırçalı Medresi Caddesi
One for those who love an old-school museum right out of the 1970s, Konya's Ethnography Museum holds a thorough collection of Turkish crafts, costumes, jewellery, carpets and household goods. It is sadly a bit dusty and unloved looking.
Location: Larende Caddesi
Yarn-Makers Mosque (İplikçi Camii)
Only the mosque remains of this religious complex, built in 1201, which stood in Alaeddin Caddesi to the east of the old citadel in Konya. The site was initially endowed by a family of yarn manufacturers, hence the name. The square building has two oval domes and one round, and stands on 12 huge 'elephant-foot' columns with a richly decorated prayer niche made from marble. Both Mevlana and his father once taught here.
Location: Alaeddin Caddesi
Tower Mosque (Kapı Camii)
The Tower Mosque was constructed in 1658, but after falling into disrepair was reconstructed in 1811. Ten pillars support the roof of the eight-domed mosque and there is a collection of 14th and 15th century garments in a room inside the building.
Avid collector Ahmet Izzet Koyunoǧlu, a member of one of Konya's oldest families, bequeathed his bizarre and eccentric collection of artifacts, art, ethnography objects, geological items, and just plain stuff, to the city of Konya when he died. The building is a treasure-trove of scatterbrained, weird and wonderful exhibits that range from rare paintings, manuscripts and carpets to stuffed animals and clocks.
Location: Kerimler Caddesi
Sahib-i Ata Külliyesi
This religious complex comprises a mosque, dervish lodge, türbe and baths and was built between 1258 and 1283. The grandly ornate portal gate is beautifully decorated and the mosque interior has a gorgeous blue tile prayer niche. The dervish lodge, with its beautifully restored blue tile and red brick interior, has been made into a museum with an interesting collection of religious artifacts.
Location: Larende Caddesi