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14/50.- Istanbul, The Whirling Dervishes

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Sirkeci Station, which opened in 1881, was the eastern terminus for European trains, including the famous Orient Express. Today the international trains connect Istanbul with Thessalonica and Bucharest. At Sirkeci Station, in the Exhibition Hall at platform 1, the followers of Mevlana Jelaleddin Rumi, the great mystic poet and philosopher of Islam, the whirling dervishes perform sema (the Sufi ceremony) every Sunday, Wednesday and Friday evening (here shown whirling).

Sufi is the mystical side of Islam, a religious sect, which worship practice, was officially banned in Turkey from the very first days of the Republic, 1923. However the cultural rich tradition of this order is well preserved in its artistic aspects and if you happen to travel to Turkey in December then you should not miss the annual Mevlana festival in Konya (Capadoccia) If you stay longer in Istanbul or are in town on the second or the fourth Sunday of the month you may wish to see the sema ceremony at Galata monastery or tekke, on Galipdede caddesi, just south of Tunel Square in Beyoglu.

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