Konya is a city in Central Anatolia in Turkey, known as the city of "whirling dervishes" and for its outstanding Seljuk architecture. In 2021 Konya metropolis had a population of 2,277,017, the sixth largest in Turkey, but the area of most interest is compact.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
Konya has been inhabited at least since 3000 BC: cultures we know of include the Hittites, Sea Peoples (the Philistines of Canaan), Phrygians, Cimmerians, Greeks, Romans and Persians. In 47 AD St Paul and his followers were run out of town in Antioch and began preaching here, with the same result. But Konya is best known as the capital of the Sultanate of Rum, established in the late 11th century in former Byzantine territory. The poet and Sufi thinker Rumi settled in the early 13th century. The city's heritage thus stems from this Selçuk golden age. From 1420 it was ruled by the Ottomans, though briefly occupied by the Khedive of Egypt in 1832 and by the Italians in 1919, as part of a short-lived attempt to establish a colony in southwestern Asia Minor during the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire post-World War I.
The town lies on a flat agricultural plain, so food, textiles and leather were its early industries. In the 20th and 21st centuries came automobiles, tool and machinery manufacturing, casting, paints, chemicals, construction materials, paper and packaging. The population doubled from about one million in 1960 to two million in 2000 as Konya drew in labour from elsewhere. In 1975 Selçuk University was founded here, and trade including tourism was boosted in 2011 when the high speed railway arrived. It has a large air base, so it stands on the front line of NATO defences, with several cockpits of war within 30 minutes flying time.
Konya retains the air of an Anatolian provincial town with a conservative outlook. The plus for visitors is to be left in peace, without the continual hassles of Istanbul, however few locals speak English or any other foreign language. There's the occasional shark taxi driver or trader but most people are hospitable. The conservative dress, such as women using headscarves, is especially noticeable if you've just come from one of the Med beach resorts. Sauntering around the mosques and streets in beach shorts is like wearing a big sign: "I'm a know-nothing tourist, please rip me off."
The climate is typical of inland Turkey, a continental cycle of hot and arid then biting cold and snow. Summers are hot, and dry except in June, but with the city at 1016 m elevation, nights can be chilly.
Winters are grey with frequent light snow, which lingers since daytime temperatures are near freezing, and during some nights can dip towards -18°C.
Spring and autumn are cool to mild, with chilly to cold nights. Autumn is mostly dry while spring brings heavy showers and thunderstorms, sometimes violent.
- "Come, come, whoever you are.
- Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving — it doesn't matter,
- Ours is not a caravan of despair.
- Come, even if you have broken your vow a hundred times,
- Come, come again, come." — Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī
1 Konya Airport (KYA IATA) (18 km north of city). This has 3 flights a day from both Istanbul airports, from IST mostly by Turkish Airlines (or Anadolu their subsidiary), and from SAW mostly by Pegasus. In summer and Christmas holiday seasons there are flights direct from Europe, such as Düsseldorf by Sun Express. The airport is small but plenty big enough for its limited passengers. Winter can be vexing, as there is limited bad weather capability so flights are grounded by fog, and there are no air bridges so you cross between aircraft and terminal in the sleet. The airport has car hire.
Havaş buses run downtown via the bus terminal (which is on the tram line). They take 40 min and in 2022 cost 16 TL. They only run three times a day to connect with the Istanbul flights. City buses don't come into the airport, but buses 34, 54 and 111 pass within 500 m on Highway D715.
Konya has YHT fast trains from Istanbul and Ankara. There are four per day from Istanbul via Eskişehir, taking 4 hr 45 min; the fare (as of 2022) is 201 TL economy, 302 TL business. From Ankara five trains per day take 1 hr 45 min, economy 67 TL, business 101 TL. Three trains continue east to Karaman (50 min), which has buses to Silifke for the Cyprus ferry.
2 Konya railway station is 2.5 km southwest of downtown. Take a taxi, dolmuş or town bus 67 to the centre.
3 Selçuklu YHT Garı 4 km north of downtown was opened in Oct 2020. All the YHT trains stop here a few minutes before reaching the old station; the Konya Mavi doesn't stop. The building is clean and yawning empty, and not yet populated by shops, travel kiosks and the like. It will eventually be served by KonyaRay Metro, whenever that gets built.
Buses from Istanbul run every hour or two and take 11 hours, for a fare in 2022 of 420 TL. From Ankara they're hourly, four hours, 130 TL. From Antalya is six hours, from Göreme in Cappadocia is 3 hr 30 min, from Izmir is 7 hr 30 min and from Adana is five hours.
Bus operators include Metro Turizm and Flixbus. Travel shops line Mevlana Cd and it's best to book before heading out to the station.
4 Otobüs Terminali the bus station is 7 km north of city centre. It has toilets and a cafe but everything is grubby and overpriced. The tram or dolmuş takes 30 min to go downtown.
Trick is to be far enough out to clear local traffic, but with inter-city traffic still able to stop for you. Towards Ankara be on D715 near the Science Museum. South for Karaman and the coast try D715 around Çilenti - several town buses (such as the hourly #26 for Alakova) run this far out. But for Antalya, get off as soon as the big intersection comes up, taking D696.
The Sufi Trail is a partly marked, 800-km hiking and cycling trail from Istanbul (with a ferry connection) through Yalova, İznik, Osmaneli, Bilecik, Söğüt, Eskişehir, Seyitgazi, Emirdağ, Akşehir, and Sille to Konya, with way-stops at various Sufi shrines and other ancient sites. It loosely follows one of the Ottoman Hajj pilgrimage routes, and can be taken in about 40 days on foot or two weeks by bicycle.
Walk the central district, most sites are within 1 km or so.
Trams run 06:00 to midnight. Line 1 runs north-south from Selçuk University via the bus terminal and Selçuklu YHT station to Zafer / Alaaddin Hill in city centre. Line 2 runs east-west from Alifbey via the Mevlana Cultural Centre and Mevlana Cd to Zafer / Alaadin Hill. They loop the hill then head back out.
Trams and public buses don't take cash, you need an Elkart. Buy it at the bus or railway station and many tram stops, and top up at convenience stores, tram stops, and on the town official mobile app (Android, iOS). In 2022 the Elkart costs 1.50 TL and each journey (scan on boarding) costs 2.50 TL.
ATUS[dead link] is the municipal transport website. It's only in Turkish.
KonyaRay is a metro railway in planning but as of 2022 construction has not begun.
- 1 Mevlana Museum (Mausoleum of Rumi), Mevlana Cd 1, ☏ . Daily 09:00-17:00. Rumi (1207-1273) was a Persian poet, philosopher and teacher who lived in Konya after the Byzantine Romans had been ousted but the area was still known as "Rum". He's known in Turkish as Mevlana, "the master", or more snappily as Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Balkhi. He taught a mystic Sufi interpretation of Islam and rituals in his lifetime included music. After his death music and dancing were accentuated and became the cult known in the west as "whirling dervishes", with Mevlana lodges in many cities. His mausoleum is here, along with a museum displaying relics of his life and times. See "Do" for the separate Cultural Centre, which stages Mevlana dancing ceremonies.
- Selimiye Mosque in the plaza outside Mevlana Museum is an elegant classic Ottoman building completed in 1567.
- Kapu Mosque and Aziziye Mosque are ornate buildings a block south of Mevlana Cd.
- The graveyard southwest side of the Cultural Centre contains Mevlana disciples and other notables.
- Koyunoğlu Müzesi is a small display within the city library, 200 m southwest of the Cultural Centre.
- 2 Iplikçi Mosque, Mevlana Cd (corner of Emir Pervane Sk). Daily 06:00-21:00. This mosque was built in 1202 AD (598 AH), a brick Seljuk structure. İplikçi means "thread spinner" and İplikçi Necîbüddin Ayaz was a trustee of the adjacent madressa. The mosque was expanded in various styles and rebuilt in the 16th century after a fire. It was restored from 1945 as a museum but re-dedicated as a mosque in 1960. Free.
- 3 Alaaddin Hill is an artificial knoll raised by Sultan Alaaddin Keykubat at the zenith of Seljuk power. Today it's a small park at the focus of the city tramways, so the trams gyrate around it as if in homage to the dervishes then rattle back out to the suburbs. Upon it stands Alâeddin Mosque (open daily 08:00-23:00) - the crafty Sultan expunged credits to its earlier contributors, a lesson in leadership that the hapless Aladdin of western pantomime tradition might heed. He and at least seven other sultans are buried in the two mausoleums. The mosque was restored from 2014. North flank of the hill are the scraps of a Seljuk palace protected by a concrete umbrella. This was built maybe 50 years before the mosque by Kılıçarslan II, whose main legacy was to set his 11 sons and 3 daughters at war with himself and each other, to the delight of the invading Crusaders.
- 4 Ince Minare Museum (Stone Works Museum), Alaaddin Blv, ☏ . Tu-Su 09:00-16:30. This medrassa (seminary) was built in 1265. Ince Minaret means "slender minaret" - it was originally taller, but a lightning blast in 1901 toppled it through the mosque dome; the re-build is distinctly stumpy. The building has rich stonework and is now a museum.
- Atatürk House is 200 m southwest of Alaaddin Hill on, you guessed it, Atatürk Cd. It's a free museum with photos and memorabilia of modern Turkey's founder, open Tu-Su 09:00-16:30.
- Sırçalı Medrese 100 m south of Alaaddin Hill was built in 1242. It has rich tile work and is a museum of gravestones, but remains closed in 2022.
- 5 Archaeology Museum, Sahibiata Cd 91, ☏ . Tu-Su 09:00-16:30. Attractive display of finds from the region, especially the carved sarcophagi and discoveries at Çatalhöyük. Free.
- Sahib-i Ata Mosque next to the museum was completed in 1283. The medrese has been refurbished as a Museum of Seljuk Arts (Sahip Ata Vakıflar Eserleri Müzesi).
- 6 Karatay Medresesi Museum, Ankara Cd, ☏ . Daily 09:00-18:30. Medrassa built in 1251 and now a museum of Seljuk tiles. Adult 20 TL.
- 7 Ateşbazı Türbesi 4 km southwest of the centre is the mausoleum of Âteşbâz-ı Velî (d 1285), a holy man and contemporary of Rumi Mevlana.
- 8 Hatıpoğlu Tavusbaba Camii is an unusual mosque with wooden columns and ceiling. Tavus Baba is in the mausoleum outside, a Sufi mystic about whom nothing is known.
- Meram creek northeast side of Tavusbaba tomb has other old mosques and hamams, and is a popular picnic spot. "Meram" is also the name of an entire province, the southwest city quadrant for many km out, so don't let the taxi drivers carry you far away.
- 9 Kyoto Park is a small Japanese-style park north on D300.
- 10 Science Centre, Ankara Cd 292 (15 km north-northeast, bus 34), ☏ . Tu-F 09:00-17:00, Sa Sun 10:00-18:00. Modern science museum with hands-on exhibits and planetarium.
- 11 Butterfly Garden (Kelebek Bahçesi), İsmail Kaya Cd 244 (11 km north-northwest, bus 47 or 57), ☏ . Remains closed. A butterfly house with tropical butterfly and plant species. The greenhouse is a sleek glass and steel structure.
- 12 Sille 11 km northwest of downtown is a well-preserved Greek village. The main sight is the Church of Michael the Archangel, also known as Aya Elenia after its patroness Helena, mother of emperor Constantine the Great. In 327 she stayed hereabouts while on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Inscriptions within are in Karamanlidika, a Turkish dialect written in Greek letters. The different ethnic and religious communities here co-existed peacefully for centuries, nevertheless the Greeks were deported after 1923 and went to Halkidiki. There are many other churches carved into the soft rock, in variable states of repair, and a small museum. Şeytan Köprüsü ("Satan's Bridge") spans a sinister chasm. A dam 500 m further up the valley has created a reservoir lake and it's now a picnic spot.
- 1 Sema (Whirling dervish ceremony), Mevlana Cultural Centre. Sema is the authentic dervish ceremony, traditionally held in the Centre on Saturday at 19:00 winter, 20:00 summer. They were cancelled through covid and have not yet resumed. Free.
- Mystic Music Festival celebrates global music similar to the Mevlana mystic tradition. The next is probably 21-29 Sept 2023, tbc.
- Football: Konyaspor play soccer in Süper Lig, the country's top tier. Their home ground is the multi-purpose Konya Büyükşehir (meaning "Metropolitan") Stadium, capacity 42,000 all seated, 5 km north of city centre. Internationals are occasionally played here. The stadium design is supposed to indicate the Mevlana dervishes, or bicycle spokes (the architects were a bit vague on this), but it's more like a millipede from Andromeda.
- Lunapark is a funfair on Beyhkim Cd 8 km north of the centre.
- Local cuisine centres on wheat/bread and mutton. That's one in the eye for Mevlana, himself a strict vegan. Etliekmek is a very long thin pizza with meat or cheese, as if the delivery rider had lost an argument with a steamroller. Tandır kebap is soft and juicy lamb meat slowly cooked in a wood-fired oven.
- Sifa, Mevlana Cd 69 (northwest side of Mevlana Museum), ☏ . Daily 09:00-23:45. Small friendly place for soup and meat.
- Konya Mutfağı Mevlana next door persistently tries to rip off tourists.
- Safran is within Hotel Think, next door again at 67 Mevlana Cd. Pricey but good ambience and cuisine.
- Mithat Tirit, Aziziye Cd (200 m west of Selimiye Mosque), ☏ . M-Sa 11:00-18:00. Don't ponder too long over the menu, they only serve Tirit kebab.
- Osmanlı Döner is behind Seljuk Hotel near Alaaddin Hill, open M-Sa 07:00-20:30.
- Somatçı Fihi Ma Fih, Mengüc Cd 41 (200 m south of Selimiye Mosque), ☏ . Daily 09:30-21:30. Charming Med restaurant in a mansion courtyard.
- Osmanlı Döner is behind Seljuk Hotel near Alaaddin Hill, open M-Sa 07:00-20:30.
- Some cafes serve beer, but Konya is conservative and lacks bars and nightlife.
- 1 Dergâh Hotel, Mevlana Cd 71 (by Mevlana Museum), ☏ . Good central location, indifferent hygiene.
- 2 Otel Çeşme, Şems-i Tebrizi Sk 21, ☏ . Clean and comfy enough budget option. B&B double 800 TL.
- Hotel Ulusan, Karahafızlar Sk (behind PTT central post office off Mevlana Cd), ☏ , email@example.com. A decent budget choice in city centre.
- 3 Nun Otel, Cihangir Cd 12, ☏ . Clean pleasant budget place, some traffic noise. B&B double 800 TL.
- Hotel Balikcilar, Mimar Sinan Sk 1 (facing Mevlana Museum), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Great location across the street from Mevlana Museum. Small rooms with balcony, wifi, TV, air-con and en-suite bathrooms. B&B double 1000 TL.
- Nil Otel, Başaralı Cd 26 (off Mevlana Cd behind İplikçi Mosque), ☏ , email@example.com. Reliable simple place with clean rooms, wifi, bathroom, satellite TV, air-con. B&B double 600 TL.
- 4 Selçuk Otel, Kazanlı Sk 6 (off Mevlana Cd), ☏ . Smart clean hotel near Aladdin's Hill. B&B double 1000 TL.
- 5 Bera Konya Otel, Dr Mehmet Hulusi Baybal Cd 9, ☏ . Good comfy place 2 km from main sights with parking lot. B&B double 1000 TL.
- Hilton Garden Inn, Kışlaönü Sk 4 (next to Mevlana Cultural Centre), ☏ . Good central location with free basement parking, so-so ratings for comfort and service, and breakfast is worth missing. B&B double 2000 TL.
- 6 Dedeman Hotel, Yeni Sille Cd 1, ☏ . Modern hotel and convention centre earning mostly good reviews, some problems with aircon and traffic noise. B&B double 1500 TL.
- 7 Grand Hotel, Yeni Istanbul Cd 231 (15 km north on D300), ☏ . Mediocre ratings for comfort and service. Convenient for motorists or if you're visiting the university or hospital; tram route to town. B&B double 1500 TL.
Konya has 4G from all Turkish carriers. As of Dec 2022, 5G has not yet reached this area.
- Çatalhöyük an hour's drive away from Konya, this archeologically hugely important prehistoric site is one of the earliest and most well preserved human settlements discovered.
- Akşehir is a pretty little town in the northwest of Konya province, which was home of the Hoca, a Sufi sage famous for his folk wit. The city holds a Hoca festival in July.
- Tuz Gölü means "Salt Lake" - it's best accessed by the road north of Aksaray. In season, migratory birds throng its lagoons and salt pans.
- Cappadocia 3 hours east is a must-see unworldly landscape.
- Karaman has a medieval centre. It's a stop-off on the way to Adana, and you change here for transport to the coast, for ferries to Cyprus.
|Routes through Konya|
|Afyonkarahisar ← Akşehir ←||W E||→ Aksaray → Kayseri|
|Muğla ← Isparta ←||W E||→ Çatalhöyük → Ends at (W / E)|
|Ends at (N / S) ←||N S||→ Çatalhöyük (Çumra) → Silifke|
|Junction W / E ←||N S||→ Karaman → END|