"Iconium" of the Roman
times is 263 kms from Ankara. The land is a wide plateau and has been
continuously inhabited even extending back to the 8th millenium BC.
Catalhoyuk is an ancient
city of that period which is considered to be one of the first settlement areas
in the world accommodating one of the earliest human communities. Made up of mud
houses, which were entered through holes in the roofs, this site is a real place
of interest where you can feel the life prevailing, many years ago. The finds
from the district, including the cult figures of the famous temple and the
mother goddess, together with old frescoes, are now on display in the Museum of
Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara.
In the environs of Konya,
there also exist sites which hold some remains from the Hittites. Ivriz is one,
168 kms east of Konya, which is one of the finest neo-Hittite reliefs in the
country, representing a king and the fertility god of the time. Eflatun Pinar is
another important sight, which is a monument fountain from the time of the
Hittites, constituting a holy place of the period.
When the Byzantines came
into power, Konya became an independent province and was given the name "Lycanoia."
A Byzantine church and several rock chapels filled with beautiful frescoes can
be seen in the town of Sille, 8 kms northwest of Konya, where the first rock
carved monasteries of the world were built.
During the 12th and 13th
centuries, the city acted as the capital of the
Seljuk Turks and advanced
rapidly to become a great cultural center.
The most famous building
here is the Green Mausoleum of
Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi, the great
philosopher and poet. He is the founder of the sect of Whirling Dervishes, the
seminary that was attached to the mausoleum. It has been converted into a museum
housing Mevlana's works, and accoutrements related to his sect. Every year in
December, ceremonies are held in Konya or the commemoration of Mevlana and the
Whirling Dervishes. In this Dervish Festival, the "Sema" dance is performed by
men dressed in white robes, whirling and rotating around the floor. This dance,
in which the dancer with the great love of God is believed to attain divine
unity, is an event well worth seeing.
On Alaeddin Hill in this
region is the Alaeddin mosque and palace, which are fine 13th century monuments
built during the reign of the famous Seljuk Sultan Alaeddin Keykubat.
constructed in 1251, stands to the north of this hill, and is now a museum which
holds the best examples of Seljuk tiles and ceramics. The Ince Minareli Medresse
with its fascinating monumental portal, the Sircali Medresse, and the Iplikci
Mosque are other Seljuk works in the city.
Beysehir, 94 kms west of
Konya, was founded on the shores of Lake Beysehir, the third largest lake in the
country. There are the attractive Seljuk monuments of Esrefoglu Mosque and its
medresse and the Kubad-Abad Summer Palace.
Of particular interest is
the town of Aksehir with its remains from the 13th century, the Ulu Mosque, the
Sahip Ata Mausoleum and the Altinkale Mescid. This land, 130 km northwest of
Konya, is the birthplace of the famous Turkish humorist Nasreddin Hoca, whose
mausoleum is here.
The various museums,
comprising rich collections of historical finds, are other interesting sights in
Konya. Especially of interest is the Archaeological Museum which should be
visited for its charming pieces, including the Sidemara Sarcophagus. The
Koyunoglu Museum, with the Izzettin Koyunoglu House inside it, constitutes a
beautiful complex; the Ethnographical Museum and Ataturk's House are also at the
service of history lovers