The Place: Konya, Turkey.
The Route: Turkish Airlines flies four times daily from Istanbul to Konya, which is situated 460 kilometers to the southeast in the plateau country of central Anatolia. Turkey’s seventh largest city is also connected to Ankara via high-speed train, a journey of less than two hours.
Why Now? Konya is the home of the whirling dervishes, or Mevlevis, a Sufi order founded by the 13th-century Persian mystic and poet Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi. With their billowing robes and tall camel-hair hats, the dervishes are best known for the trance-like spinning ritual that they believe brings them closer to God. Though they perform the sacred dance regularly throughout the year, there’s no better time to witness their rapture than during the Mevlana Festival, a 10-day commemoration of Rumi that will climax on December 17 (the 741st anniversary of his death) with especially ecstatic whirling.
What Else? The dervishes’ original lodge is now the Mevlana Museum, a complex that includes Rumi’s tomb and its magnificent turquoise-domed mausoleum. Another must-see is Çatalhöyük, a 45-minute drive from town, where the ongoing excavations of a Neolithic town dating back nearly 10,000 years provide a fascinating glimpse into the ancient past.
Where to Stay: Just across the street from the Mevlana Museum, the Hich Hotel Konya (90-332/353-4424; doubles from US$192) inhabits a 200-year-old building whose 13 stylish guest rooms feature hand-knotted Anatolian rugs and wrought-iron beds. –Tina Sindukusumo
This article originally appeared in the December/January print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Spin City”)