Konya. Mevlana Festival.

Did you know that the biggest city of Turkey is not Istanbul or Ankara, but the city which is surrounded by the mountains – Konya. This place is famous because of the annual Mevlana Festival, which take place in December and people from all over the world come to observe the mysterious dervish meditation.
Konya is situated almost in the heart of Turkey and it takes only 1 hour to get from Istanbul to Konya by airplane. When I came there it was December and in comparison in Istanbul the temperature was +15 C, when in Konya there was snow and the temperature was vary from 0 to – 2 C.
During the next week we were living in a big hotel Bora with 4 stars, where we`ve got the adventures from the very beginning. Before we came to our suits we have stacked in the elevator with all the luggage and no fresh air…. But damn it, it might be quite interesting to hang out in the elevator with international community)
After we got rescued from the catchy elevator we had our famous all-inclusive Turkish restaurant meal and went to visit quite nice and small place “Dervish Cafe” – which is the most popular in this quarter. Konya is famous because of the Dervish Festival, that`s why everything here is connected to dervishes.This cafe became a place for our evening hang-outs and we have tried here Turkish “shisha”, traditional coffee and chai. There were no possibility to buy alcohol in this place, cos Konya is quite conservative city and if you want to try something harder than soda, you have to ask local to help you with it.
Traditional Turkish coffee serving
“Nargile” – its how the Turkish people call “Shisha”.

It`s not a secret that Turkey is famous with its touristic and hotel management and service so the comfortableness and hospitality of our hotel was also on the highest level.
After our travel from Istanbul to Konya and endless days of exploration of new country we were expecting to sleep tight and watch colorful dreams, but… at 5 a.m. we discovered that there is a mosque in the backyard of our hotel and Imam started to call for pray, which made us wake up. Later we got used to this, may be because we were getting more and more exhausted ) 
In Turkey I have discovered something new about my name. When there was an Ottoman Empire on the territory of Turkey, there was a big city called Lydia. Also that my name is quite international and popular in many of oriental countries, but not in Ukraine, which makes me unique in my county=D
Thank to that fact that our hotel allowed us to go on the roof top we have observed all the beauty of the Konya as well as picturesque mountains which surround the city from every side.
On 7th of December we went to the city center where the opening ceremony of Mevlana Festival has started. There were many of men dressed in old-fashioned traditional clothes and it felt like we appeared on the movie making place…
Together with all the other people we joined the Festival walk. Their clothes were symbolized different roles of Sultan`s servants.
The Festival walk took place from the central street of Konya till the Cultural House. Everyone was allowed to join the walk and enjoy the opening ceremony.
So who is Mevlana? Mevlana – a philosopher who lived in Turkey and is a special symbol for Turkish people. He is the personification of tolerance, love, wisdom, and because of this he is honored up to this day. Every year, from 7th to 14th of December in Konya Mevlana Festival takes place, which attracts many tourists. There is one of the examples of Mevlana`s wisdom – seven tips from him which is worth following:
As for the local food we have tried many of places where local people eat. There is one secret – the more people are inside – the better food they serve. The cafe could have unattractive appearance but meals they offer would be of a good taste and quality. We tried traditional “Doner Kebab” in each of central places together with traditional drink “Airan”.
Airan with the foam
To prove that Konya is the biggest city of Turkey, I have to say that to cross it from one side to another you have to take a ride for 3 hours by bus. This time we took a tram to reach the University and it took 45 minutes for us to get there. We were invited to observe the basketball game of Konya team vs. Izmir team.
a short nap in a tram
Even if we were invited from the Konian side, our thumbs up went to the shortest but the faster player of Izmir team – Dixon. Regardless of his small tall he was really the best in this game.
Konyan University main gates
On the 5th day we were surprised by the view from our hotel room. All the previous days were quite foggy and we didn’t see the mountains which are surround the hotel. 

Also we discovered the traditional dances and delights in Konya.

In our turn we presented the Ukrainian cuisine, traditional dances and songs. Sometimes I am singing, and sometimes it could not be that bad) but unfortunately I  can`t dance traditional dances, only those which are popular in the modern dance floor=D
Winter. Snow. Cold air and we are walking through the streets in summer shoes… Usually in Ukraine we used to think that in Turkey there is no winter, but it is not about Konya. 
As I have mentioned before – the symbol of Konya – is Dervish (the meditating man) which is visible in every corner of this Turkish city.
Special occasions boutique
in Mevlana museum
We have visited the Mevlana museum, where his tomb is placed as well as the tomb of his father, closest friends and followers. There are a variety of ancient Korans which are written in Arabic and Persian languages. By the way, later the language which Turkish people were used  was Arabic, but Ataturk, one of the presidents of Turkey, changed it into Turkish language.
During our walk through the cold city I was impressed by one place – two stored building where everyone could have a cup of hot tea or coffee for free and warm up on the comfortable sofas. This is the compliment from local Government for locals and tourists to make them feel that Konya takes care of people.
Konya from the top
There is a nice cafe placed on the top of the mountain where you can see the whole city, with the best “Salep” ever. Salep is a traditional Turkish hot drink made of kind of semolina with cinnamon.  It is always good to have locals as a friends, so they can drive you to wonderful corners of its home city, like this one.
Konya counts like the most religious and conservative cities of Turkey. Many of young people are not dating before the marriage. They are waiting for their “the only one” to share all the happiness of life together.
One of the most important parts of Mevlana Festival is a semi-ceremony of Dervishes.
On the semi-ceremony
If you would ever see something like this and have no information about dervishes you might completely get lost… Thanks to our Turkish friend we`ve got all the necessary info to get involved into the interesting and exciting process of dervishes` meditation.
Dervish dance – is a kind of meditation, which is made by men in special dresses like on the photos. During the ceremony they are rotating around their axis, without changing the direction … Do you think there is nothing special in it? but try to whirl at least 5 times in one direction and not lose the balance … and dervishes have done it during more than 10 minutes (I checked the time) and they did not change the direction of their move…
During the meditation, their arms raised and one hand looks palm up – which means they ask for the God’s blessing, and the second hand rolled down through which dervishes convey blessings to the public … During the Performance dervishes are watched by their “supervisor” and principal leader of the group, to help them avoid the slightest blot. The strongest performers are dancing in the middle, the youngest – on the sides. Before and after the dance, they pray. At the end of the ceremony together with the dervishes everyone from the audience was praying.
Here I have met with the minister of culture, and I`ve got the Qur’an as a present. Anyway, I couldn`t read it, because it is written in Arabic with Turkish translation, but the Holy Book decoration looks very beautiful and I keep it for my home library.
There is a big museum of the 1st World War in Konya. The main result of this countdown was the fact that Turkey has defended the Bosporus.
One day before our departure the snow fell and Turkish Airlines canceled flight from Konya to Istanbul, but we were lucky, because we chose the budget airline Pegasus and departed from Konya, just in an hour. On the board I looked through the window and wondered… I was never expecting to see such a winter in Turkey. Snowy Istanbul was waiting for us. About our adventure in Istanbul you can read here: Istanbul (2013) & Back to Istanbul.
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