Galata Mevlevihanesi, the first Mawlawi (Whirling Dervish) lodge was built in 1491 in Istanbul. Today the property is a museum dedicated to the life and history of Whirling Dervishes. The building was heavily damaged by an earthquake in 1509, but later repaired and renovated into a complex of buildings. In 1765 it was again destroyed, but this time by fire. The oldest surviving property is the Hasan Agha Fountain (1649).
The first room in the museum is the Serna Hall. It’s here that the Whirling Dervishes perform the Serna Ritual, a type of physically active medication. In this worship ceremony 'dervishes’ aspire to reach the source of all perfection, known as ‘kemal’. To do so, Mevlevimust abandon their egos and personal desires. There are rooms on the upper floor of the Serna Hall devoted to calligraphy, Ebru (a type of marbling), antique Janissary instruments, and a physiognomy of the Prophet Muhammad (1853 AD).
In the past, foreign visitors needed special permission to enter mosques and other holy places. As these restrictions didn’t apply at the Mawlawi Lodge, the visitors spent a lot of time with the dervishes. There was even a special balcony reserved for them. Danish writer, Hans Christian Andersen, was one of many noteworthy people to visit the hall.
Don’t forget to check out the basement. That’s where you’ll find an extensive and fascinating exhibit that covers all aspects of Mawlawi life. This floor is divided into different rooms dedicated to study, literature, prayer, music, costumes, fine arts, and food preparation. Some rooms include realistic wax Mawlawi models clothed in full garb.
In 1925 at the start of the new Turkish Republic (Turkey), the Mevlevi Orderwas outlawed and the Mawlawi House, along with other dervish lodges, hospices, and shrines, ceased to function. It was then converted into an elementary school. In 1975 it was opened as the "Divan Literature Museum". Between 2005-2009 The Serna House was restored. If you have time, take a stroll around the garden surrounding the lodge. There are a variety of trees, plants, and a dozen or so benches.
The audio guide for the museum is thorough and features video segments and photos on its screen. The placards generously placed throughout the museum offer detailed information.
Summer: 15 April - 1 November 09:00 -
Winter: 1 November - 15 April 09:00 - 17:00
Free with 5-Day Museum Pass Istanbul Audio guides are available for a small fee.