Hacıbektaş is a town in South Central Anatolia, with a population of 5325 in 2022. It's the site of the shrine of Haji Bektash Veli, a 13th century Sufi saint and philosopher, and a pilgrimage destination.
Bektaş (circa 1209-71) was originally Sayyid Muhammad ibn Sayyid Ibrāhim Ātā from Nishapur now in Iran. He settled and taught in the Anatolian village of Suluca Karahöyük which now bears his name. (His hagiographers later gave him a bogus genealogy to boost his Shia credentials.) He taught Alevism, a mystic version of Islam that defies pithy definition but resembles Sufi. His teachings seem to have been a personal interpretation rather than a separate creed called "Bektashism" until Balim Sultan codified it 200 years later. Balim's Mücerred or Babagan tradition became the dominant form of the Bektashi, with its senior priest based in Hacıbektaş. A minority Çelebî faction resisted the changes.
The Alevis and the Bektashi have often come under attack from the country's majority Sunnis and its fundamentalists, being on the losing side of revolts and suffering pogroms. And in modern times they've been at odds with secular forces – in 1925 Bektashism was banned along with other Islamic orders, and its priesthood decamped to Tirana in Albania. It has however from time to time enjoyed official support, and President Erdoğan declared 2021 to be "The Year of Hacıbektaş", the 750th anniversary of his death. Nowadays Alevis and Bektashis are about 20% of the Turkish population.
Get in edit
By road from Ankara, go east on D200 / E88 to Kırıkkale, then D765 and D260 south through Kırşehir (225 km). Watch out for the final turnoff after Mucur.
To see the Japanese garden near Kaman on the way, go south from Ankara on D750 south then from Gölbaşı take D260. This route is 234 km and the road surface is worse.
From Istanbul, bypass Ankara on O-20, leave at Gölbaşı then follow D260. You could stay on O-21 as far as Harmandalı but it's toll and extra distance.
From Nevşehir, follow D765 north for 45 km.
Buses from Ankara take four hours. Kâmil Koç (now part of FlixBus) runs four times a day and Nevşehir Seyahat three times on the way to Nevşehir.
Buses drop off on the main street through town. The former bus station on Atatürk Blv has been demolished and there are no plans to build a new one.
Get around edit
The town is compact and everything of interest is a short walk from the central roundabout.
Hacıbektaş Taksi[dead link] is on +90 555 421 9400 and accepts credit cards.
- 1 Haji Bektash Veli Complex (Daily 08:00-17:00, free entry) is built around the lodge and burial place of the scholar. This was the pir evi ("saint's house"), the world headquarters of the Bektashi order until 1925. You enter through a garden into the first courtyard, the focus of dervish daily activity, with a spring gushing from a lion sculpture. Wax sculptures attempt to recreate their life. The second courtyard is lined by the shrines of Bektashi elders, including Haji Bektash Veli himself. Their domes are adorned in colourful designs, and one room holds a forty-branched candelabra, symbolizing the wand of Bektash, embellished with cast dragons and birds.
- Tomb of Balım Sultan is east side of the second courtyard. This teacher (1457-circa 1518) codified the loose practices and beliefs of Bektashi's followers into a priestly discipline, presided over by a celibate dervish.
- 2 Atatürk's house is an Ottoman mansion where Kemal Atatürk stayed for a night during a tour of Anatolia to gain support in preparation of the Turkish War of Independence (1919–22).
- 3 Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography, Nevşehir Cd, ☏ . Daily 09:00-17:00. Full of artifacts from the area's eventful history. Free.
- 4 Yeldeğirmeni is a restored windmill on Çilehane Cd.
An annual festival in honour of Haji Bektash Veli is held Aug 16–18.
- Souvenir shops line the pedestrianised street leading into the complex. Expect lots of Alevi and leftist miscellanea, as the Alevis have traditionally tended towards the political left.
- Little supermarkets on the main street south of the complex are Nokta, Gurme and A101 (open daily 09:00-21:00).
Lots of little eating places in the blocks south of the complex, open daily to 23:00 or later. They include Uğur Mumcu Özgürlük Parkı, Can Baba Köfte Şiş, TurnaCafe, Köfteci Oktay, Komagene, Gülzem, Kardeşler Döner, Gülhanım, Turna, Babacan, Hacıbektaş Sofrası, Star, Yaşam Pide and Kasapcan.
Cafes may serve alcohol but there are no free-standing pubs. Bektashis drink wine in their rituals but don't hit the town.
- 1 Fuat Baba Otel, Çiğdem Sk 6, ☏ . A drab neighbourhood but a welcoming tranquil pansiyon with hens clucking round the garden.
- 2 Sun Hotel (Güneş Otel), Dedebağ Sk 1/A, ☏ . Simple but clean and friendly hotel 500 m north of shrine. B&B double 500 TL.
- 3 Ardıç Butik Otel, Aşık Mahsuni Şerif Cd 18/1, ☏ . Pleasant little pansiyon 200 m east of shrine.
As of Nov 2023, Hacıbektaş has 4G from all Turkish carriers, with variable coverage along its approach roads. 5G has not rolled out in Turkey.
Go next edit
- Nevşehir and Göreme to the south are the obvious bases for seeing Cappadocia.
- Kayseri is the hub for routes into the east of Turkey.
- Ankara the capital needs a few days to explore on the road west.
|Routes through Hacıbektaş
|Afyonkarahisar ← Ankara ←
|→ Kayseri → Elazığ
|Kastamonu ← Çankırı ← Kırıkkale ( W / E) ←
|→ Nevşehir → Niğde