Welcome to Konya, Turkey!
Once upon a time, Konya was the old capital of the Sultanate of Rum which was conquered from the Byzantine Empire to the Seljuk Empire. The conquerors were Turkish-Persian Sunni Muslims, and Konya became of great importance to the Seljuks, building mosques, buildings, and infrastructures that can still be seen to this day. All mentioned giving Konya a very distinct look and feel that is not found in other parts of Turkey.
Konya is a city that is very rich with history, presenting plenty of museums and monuments around town. They reflect the country’s past, both during the Seljuk and Ottoman period, and it’s more present post-revolution era. As a worldwide local you’ll enjoy the museums, ancient food, people, and history that came and went through here. This guide will lead you to some of the best.
Worldwide Local Tip: The people of Konya are very hospitable, but visitors should be aware that that very few locals speak English. The city is also a little more on the conservative side, with about 50% of women wearing headdresses. Although western visitors don’t necessarily have to abide by these rules, you’ll stick out a bit if you don’t.
Start with the Best Activities in Konya
Perhaps one of the city’s most famous museums is the Mevlana Museum. Simply approaching the museum, is an experience in itself with its striking green tower and intricate Arabic writing across the entrance. The museum is important for Turkey because it’s home to the mausoleum of Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi. The man more commonly known just as “Rumi,” was a 13th-century poet, scholar, and Islamic theorist. The notable exhibit on Rumi is filled with priceless artifacts, relics, and antiques. The interior is inscribed with all of Rumi’s poetry and decorated in the beauty he created. The Mevlana Museum is an integral part of the history of Turkey and a must-see for a worldwide local.
Worldwide Local Tip: If you want to dive deeper into the local history, the Konya Archaeological Museum is among one of the best. The small but ornate museum is partially covered in vines, which adds to its motif of ancient Roman history. Statues, pottery, and relics are beautifully preserved here, showcasing life in the area during the Roman and classical era.
Eat Like a Local in Konya
Taking part in the local culture means indulging in its food, and Turkish food is some of the tastiest. Local cuisine is very centered on wheat and mutton, with etli ekmek being a popular dish in the area. The dish is almost like a pizza with a flatbread base, cheese, and meat as popular toppings. Havzan Restaurant is a popular place serving Turkish specialties, and Can Baba is a local favorite spot serving kebabs and fresh kunefe.
Worldwide Local Tip: For a local chill-out spot where you can eat outdoors, head to Alaeddin Hill. The hill was once part of a palace, has since been demolished, but now it’s a popular public park overlooking the city. Head to one of the cafes or restaurants nearby, try some etli ekmek or some Turkish coffee, and sit among the locals having a picnic.
Get Out into the Countryside
Getting out of town to see the countryside is always a good idea, and near the city of Konya remains the ruins of Sille. The village was inhabited mostly by Greeks, who have lived there for centuries, and as such the ruins of the old settlement can still be found. It was rumored that Rumi was the reason for the peaceful coexistence between the Greeks and the Seljuks who lived here. Some monuments still stand, such as the Greek Orthodox Monastery, however after 1924 the Greek population has left. Restoration efforts have begun on some of the more derelict ruins, and the area is rife with an ancient history that’s reflective of the region.
Worldwide Local Tip: For those interested in history that’s a little more contemporary, the Ataturk House museum is arguably one of the most important in the country. The founder of the modern Turkish state has a museum here dedicated to legendary figures containing many of his personal items.
Enjoy Your Visit!
For a worldwide local interested in history, you can’t go wrong visiting Konya. The whole city is essentially one large museum with different buildings, public spaces, and museums dedicated to different eras, in Konya. Explore the ancient city and marvel at its past, and wonder about its future.