CITY OF TOLERANCE: KONYA, Zehra Nur Yurtlugil | 10.03.2014

Konya is the hometown of Rumi, the architect of tolerance and modesty… If you need a change this weekend and are wondering what to do, visit Konya even if just for the delicious etli ekmek (bread with ground meat layered on top). Getting to this Anatolian historical city is pretty easy. Konya gives you a chance to go through a journey of history, tombs, religions and mosques.

The answer to the question “If we go to Konya what is there to do?” First things first, go to the Tomb of Rumi. This beautiful complex which in the past served as the dervish lodge of Rumi was opened to visitors as a museum in 1926. The tomb and its story give off this vibe of peace and warmth, with its green dome and its columns resting on top of the feet of four elephants, and the whole experience will be all the more memorable if your visit happens to coincide with spring! While taking a stroll around the rose gardens within the complex, you may hear someone whispering from a distance saying ‘’Come, whoever you are, just come and join us”.  The tomb of Rumi is the second most visited museum in Turkey, probably because of Rumi’s philosophy of addressing people of all religions.

Another great idea is to go on top of Alâeddin Hill to enjoy the fresh air of generous Anatolian lands. This is a site that’s referred to as a protohistoric (a period between historic and prehistoric ages) settlement site by some archeologists and historians where you can take some lovely photos. While you’re at it, visit Alâeddin Mosque on the same hill. This mosque was built by the Anatolian Seljukid Sultan Alaeddin Kayqubad I in 1220 and also houses a cemetery for 8 of many Anatolian Seljukid Sultans.

It is not called a “city of tolerance” for no reason. There is no shortage of things for visitors to do in Konya, and it’s not just all mosques. You can add Haghia Elenia Church, Konya St Paul’s Church and Sille Siyata Monastery (St Chariton) to your list since these are important places for the history of Christianity.

Çatalhöyük is a must see in Konya. Çatalhöyük is a neolithic settlement site 100 km away from Hasan Dağ in the southeast of Konya. It is one of the oldest settlements that’ve been found so far and one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.

And now let’s start talking about food, which happens to fall within my field of expertise! Start your meal with a bowl of arabaşı soup (a traditional chicken soup), bamya soup (a delicious okra soup), yoghurt soup and continue to indulge yourself with tirit (feta cheese and green over deep fried bread), düğün pilavı (a particular pilav dish), etli ekmek (bread with ground meat layered on top), çebiç (Turkish specialty of slow-cooked goat in a tandoor oven), fırın kebab (slow-cooked sheep ribs), and sac arası (a local honey dessert). Take some back with you and buy some dried okra so that your grandmother can cook you another bowl of okra soup! Treat your little ones with Mevlana candies (a local hard candy). Konya is a master city in candy. Another souvenir from Konya might be the large beaded rosaries found in every store around the Tomb of Rumi and its environs. 

Konya is a city with your name on it. Its large streets, endless number of delicious local tastes, the Tomb of Mevlana, its mosques, churches and kind-hearted warm people invite you to the heart of Anatolia …

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Mustafa Göksal


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