At the heart of Istanbul’s smart Beyoglu district is Galata Mevlevi House. Built in 1491, it was the city’s first Sufi Dervish house and dervishes still practice their whirling here today. Sufism has been defined “Islamic mysticism” and “the inward dimension of Islam” and dates back to early Islamic history, around about the 8th century.
The practice of whirling came late and originates from the teachings of the 13th-century Persian poet, Islamic theologian and Sufi mystic, Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumi.
Whirling is a form of physically active meditation and produces an ecstatic state in the Dervish allowing them to be or feel closer to God. Through whirling, dervishes ‘turn towards truth, grow through love, desert their egos and arrive at the perfect. They then return from this spiritual journey better able to love and be of service to the whole of creation.’
The tall rough wooden hats they wear represent the tombstone of the dervish’s ego, and the white cloak, his ego’s shroud.
Whilst this dervish house is more tourist-focused than the others, the setting – as you can see from the photos – is stunningly beautiful. It is well worth a visit.