A Mevlevi is one who follows Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi, the great 13th-century Islamic poet and mystic of Konya. In other words, a Mevlevi is a whirling dervish. The place where Mevlevis meet is a Mevlevihane, or tekke.
The tekke, on Galipdede Caddesi just off of Tünel Square, was founded by a descendant of Rumi in the 1490s. The present buildings are more recent, of course, and include the tomb (at the left of the photo) of Galip Dede, a 17th-century mystic who was the tekke’s most famous leader, or sheik.
Many 18th- and 19th-century European visitors to Istanbul were charmed by the dervishes’ graceful religious rite, and wrote stories about it. The service they wrote about was probably right here.
The late Mr Çelik Gülersoy, longtime head of the Turkish Touring and Automobile Association and a pioneer in historic architectural restorationin Turkey, was always amused by this thought: in the late 19th century, there were dervishes whirling here just as they had in the 13th century, while a few Beyoglu blocks away in the Théåtre des Petits-Champs beside the Pera Palace Hotel, a troupe was performing the latest frothy comedylately arrived from Paris.
Just one of those Istanbul moments….