Cornucopia’s travel guide

Konya


Roman Iconium, this ancient Anatolian city was a stop along the Silk Road. After 1084 it became the capital of Seljuk Sultanate of Rum, and Seljuk architecture still gives the city its flavour. It became a religious centre after the Sufi poet and saint, Rumi, was buried here in the 13th century, and the lodge of the whirling dervishes he founded is now a museum. A proliferation of mosques and seminaries make the city one of the most religious, and conservative, in Turkey. The most important of the mosques is the Alaettin Camii on a hill in the centre of town, dating from the 12th century.

Nearby is the Ince Minare Medrese (Seminary of the Slender Minaret, 1267). The minaret from which the Madrese took its name was struck by lightning in 1901 and collapsed, but 17 years earliet it had been photographed by John Henry Haynes, and is included in Robert G. Ousterhout's book on the American archaeologist photographer. The building is now the Museum of Wooden Artifacts and Stone Carving, worth seeing as much for its architecture as its collection, as is the Great Karatay Medresi, now the Tile Museum. An archaeological museum is mainly concerned with sarcophagi.

Extolled by Marco Polo, Konya, or Seljuk rugs and carpets were famous during the Renaissance, and are the oldest surviving examples of carpets woven with the symmetrical ghiordes knot. For an entertaining article on carpets in Konya, see Konya, The Seljuks and The First Great Anatolian Carpets in the Tea and Carpets blog site. Marco Polo, who visited in 1271 and 1272, wrote: '“The best and handsomest carpets in the world are wrought here.' Many of the city's treasures can be found the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts in Istanbul.

Roger Williams

Getting there

About four hours by road from Ankara 180 miles away. A high-speed train (Yüksek Hızlı Tren, YHT) takes around 1hr 45min.

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