in training wear
Oddly enough, Istanbul is the easiest city in which to see whirling dervishes. (In Konya, the Mevlevis' home city, they whirl reliably only on Saturday. More...)
The semas and sema-like demonstrations
are popular with
foreign visitors, and all seats are often sold
out, often in advance. You cannot
just go and expect
to buy a ticket just before it begins.
(If you do decide
to chance it, go several hours before
The best way to assure that you'll
be able to see the dervishes is to reserve your tickets a
day or more in advance of what you
want to see.
That having been said, I must tell you that it is impossible to keep up to date on the many various dervish groups, the ever-changing venues, dates and times. The information on this page will help you to find a program you can attend, but all of this information is subject to change.
If you have reserved a hotel
room for your Istanbul stay, your hotel
may be willing to send someone to buy
tickets for you. They may charge
a fee for this service, as it is an
expense for them. A travel
also be willing to buy you tickets
(for a service fee), especially if
you are also reserving other services
through them, such as hotels, rental
cars or tours.
The Hodjapasha Art & Culture Center near Sirkeci
Station is perhaps the easiest and most reliable venue for seeing the dervishes. More...
Dervishes whirl in a restored Ottoman hamam
at Hodjapasha Art & Culture Center.
Mevlevihanesi (a dervish tekke, or
hall) in Beyoğlu hosts performances of the Mevlevi
dervishes' whirling sema ceremony on Sunday at 17:00 (5:00 pm). Admission costs TL50.
Drop by the Galata
Mevlevihanesi, just off Tünel Square at the southwestern end of İstiklal Caddesi, check the schedule and buy advance tickets if you can.
A grand hall at Sirkeci Station hosts the sema, performed by a variety of groups, on several nights of the week, usually at 19:30 (7:30 pm), for TL50. Look for posters and notices around Sirkeci.
Gülhane Kandil Café
The Istanbul city government even stages a Mevlevi demonstration. It's held in the café in Gülhane Park, which can be entered from the Gülhane T1 tram station through the high stone wall (Alemdar Caddesi, Gülhane Park No. 48). The dervishes whirl here every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 19:30 (7:30 pm), for TL50 per person.
Mevlana Cultural Center
Lovers of Mevlânâ Society (Evrensel
Mevlânâ Aşıkları Vakfı), a
forward-looking Mevlevi group very
much in the spirit of Rumi (Mevlânâ),
performs the sema each
Thursday evening at the Silivrikapı
Mevlana Cultural Center,
Mevlânakapı Mah., Yeni Tavanlı
Çeşme Sok. No: 8, Silivrikapı,
Fatih, İstanbul (map;
firstname.lastname@example.org, tel +90 (542) 422
1544). The program begins at 19:30 (7:30pm) with a question-and-answer hour, mostly in
Turkish, with some translation into English. This is followed by the singing of hymns, then the sema, ending about 23:00 (11pm).
Performances on December
17, are in honor of Şebi-
Arus (SHEB-ee ah-ROOSS), Mevlana
Jelaleddin Rumi's "wedding
night with God" (the night of
his earthly death).
—by Tom Brosnahan