Tag Archives: tomb

Konya – the Mevlana Museum

1/12 – Happy to say that the temperature rose to the 30s today, so the ice melted off the streets, and turned the sidewalks to dirty icy slush. Reminds me of growing up in New York…


Today we set out from our apartment in the opposite direction, and it turns out we are only a few blocks from the city. Our street is very quiet, as we are on the far side of the city cemetery.


We haven’t seen headstones like these before.

We’re on our way to see Rumi’s tomb, at the Mevlana Museum. Mevlana means Master, and refers to Rumi. You can see the green spire (tower?) of the museum in the distance. The spire is the same color green as the decoration on the headstones. I looked online, but was unable to discover any info about this.


Here’s a funny thing. At the entrance to the museum is a ticket booth and a sophisticated electronic turnstile. We stand a moment, trying to puzzle out the price of admission, which seems to be 50 lira ($22) plus some sort of museum card. We are mentally figuring what the total cost might be, and that this is the most expensive museum we’ve encountered, when the person in the ticket booth smiles and says the entrance is free. Free? Yes, and hands us two fancy tickets, which we scan to get through the turnstile. Most curious!


Once inside, the first thing we saw was an invitation to visit Rumi’s mom. What a nice thought!image

The museum consists of several mausoleums. We headed to the main building, where Rumi’s tomb is located.


Inside we found the sarcophagi of some of Rumi’s relatives and close followers from the thirteenth century. Sufi turbans decorate each one.


Some look like Sufis seated at prayer.


Rumi’s sarcophagus is covered in golden brocade and the area is beautifully decorated.


The museum contains a mosque, and a collection of illuminated Qur’ans, ranging in size from very large to a little octagonal one the size of a silver dollar.



We saw the Mevlana’s Sufi robe and turban.image

As always, I was attracted to the intricate designs on the walls and ceilings.

The rest of the museum showed us Sufi artifacts, including the instruments played during the whirling dance, and some seriously heavy prayer beads.

The cane-like thing is a chin rest, so Sufis in training could take short naps without laying down!

There were dioramas that showed how Sufis were trained for 1001 days.

As we left the museum, we were invited in for tea at a ceramic shop with gorgeous handpainted plates (my favorite!) unlike those we have seen anywhere in Turkey. The proprietor, Issa, was very knowledgeable and shared much about the Mevlana, Islam, and porcelain.

One of the down sides of backpacking is that we have to resist the urge to buy pretty things, as we can’t carry them around, and shipping cost back to the states is prohibitive. We’ll have to be satisfied with the memory of these beautiful plates…

Kas – the Doric Tomb and the Ancient Theatre

12/21 – Another beautiful hiking day. Kas is on the Lycian Way, so we are continuing our day treks, wherever the trail takes us. Today we climbed up to a Doric tomb, 4th century BCE, freestanding and carved out of the bedrock, with a walkway all around. The sign said it was decorated with images of 24 dancing girls, but, try as we might, we could not see them. You can just make out some flowers carved inside.



There was room to sleep four – two slabs on each side. I tried to lie down for the full experience, but was a little too tall for the lower berth…


The trail wound down the hill to an ancient theatre, from the 2nd century BCE. It could seat 4000, and seated us while we ate our lunch.




Imagine our surprise when we were joined by a family of goats! The billy and the nanny really seemed to enjoy gamboling up and down the tiers.



The baby goat and Jim, checking each other out.


I’m still tickled to see flowers blooming in December.

On our way home, we found a sarcophagus and the ruins of a Hellanistic Temple, right in town.image



A man was feeding meat to the stray cats. He told us that he fed 100 a day. He asked for money to continue his good works, then was insulted when Jim only offered him two lira (about a dollar) and refused the money.

Another beautiful day.image


Selçuk to Pamukkale

12/11 – So long, Selçuk! We loved your ruins and your Roman aquaduct still standing in the middle of town.




We loved your little museum that showed what Ephesus looked like in its prime, and that jewelry hasn’t changed much in 4000 years.


We loved your town square filled with old men sipping tea and playing cards and Okey from morning ’til night.image

We weren’t so crazy about your pension with spotty wifi and no hot water…

This morning we walked down to the bus station to catch the 9am dolmus to
Pamukkale. There are several different bus companies in competition – one offers free wifi, one offers a free cup of tea enroute. We got a quote of 30 lira from one, and 35 from another, and haggling commenced. We were entering one ticket office when a guy swooped in and said he was a friend of the guy in the office, who really wanted us to take his bus instead.

We eventually got on a mini bus with a small tour group on their way to Pamukkale. We got to hear the tour guide’s patter for free during the three hour ride. Did you know there is no such thing as a green olive tree and a black olive tree? Pick in September to get green olives, and in December to get black! The first press of the olives gives you the virgin olive oil, the second press gives you oil to make soaps and hand creams, then you gather up the pits and sell them for fuel – they burn cleaner than charcoal. Who knew?

By afternoon, we were in Pamukkale, eating kebabs with shoes off, Turkish style, in a local restaurant, with a local cat to keep us company.

Sorry to say, we did not order the lamb chomps!image

Pamukkale is where tourists flock in the warmer months to bathe in the hot springs and walk on the calcium carbonate travertine. We will certainly do some of that, but are here for another reason as well. In 2011, the martyrion and tomb of the Apostle Philip was uncovered here in the excavations of the ancient city of Hierapolis. Now (you may be saying) didn’t we already see the tomb of Philip in Rome? Well, yes we did. The Church of the Apostles claims to host the remains of both Philip and James the Just, and commemorates them both in a single tomb. But if the original tomb of Philip is here, we intend to see it tomorrow!

Monday in Selçuk – St. John’s Church

12/8 – Today we saw the tomb of St. John, the one whom Jesus loved, the purported author of the Gospel of John and the Book of Revelation, the caretaker of Mary after the death of Jesus, and the last Apostle on our list!

If you recall, we have been seeking out the tombs of the 12 Apostles of Jesus, or at least some of their relics. We found:

Thomas – Chennai, India, 2008
James the Greater – Santiago de Campostela, Spain, 2011
Matthias (replaced Judas) – Rome, Maria Maggiore Church, Oct. 2014
Philip – Rome, Church of Holy Apostles, Oct. 2014
James the Just / Less – Rome, Church of Holy Apostles, Oct. 2014
Bartholomew – Rome, Church of San Bartolemeo, Tiberia, Oct. 2014
Paul and Peter’s Skulls – Rome, St. John Lateran Church, Oct. 2014
Peter – Vatican, St. Peter’s Basilica, Oct. 2014
Jude (Thaddeus) – Vatican, St. Peter’s Basilica, Oct. 2014
Simon the Zealot – Vatican, St. Peter’s Basilica, Oct. 2014
Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist – Salerno, Italy, Salerno Cathedral,Oct. 2014
Andrew – Amalfi, Italy, Basilica of the Crucifix, Nov. 2014
Mark the Evangelist – Venice, Italy, Basilica San Marco, Nov. 2014
John, Apostle and Evangelist – Selçuk, Turkey, Church of St. John, Dec. 2014

If you’re counting, that is more than 12, as some consider Paul to be Judas’s replacement instead of Matthias, and we included Mark the Evangelist as we also had Matthew and John. Luke the Evangelist wasn’t on our original list – with his remains divided between Prague, Padua and Thebes, we’ll have to catch up with him on another trip…

So today we walked across the street from our pension to the Ruins of the Church of St. John.




John was buried in a cave. The four pillars show the place of the tomb in the original church that was built over the cave.



The locked grate covers the tunnel dug to exhume the body of John during the reign of Justinian in the 500s, purportedly to distribute his relics. No bones were found, only dust. John is the only Apostle who does not have relics scattered around Christendom. The dust, also called manna, was gathered for many years, and was said to cause miracles.

Jim made friends with St. John’s cat.image

The baptistery had three steps down on either side to allow for total immersion. We watched several tour guides explain this at length to tourists unfamiliar with the concept.



At the entrance to the baptistery, part of the original mosaic floor was visible.

Three original frescoes, of Jesus, Mary, and an unidentified holy person are being restored in the Treasury, which also has its original floor. The frescoes are behind glass, so please excuse my reflection.



St. John’s Church was built here twice, with Justinian’s huge construction in the 500s the biggest church of its time. It covers the entire hillside. image

Here is a model of what it once looked like:image

When destroyed by an earthquake in the 1400s, the church was not rebuilt. Archeological reconstruction began in the 1920s and is still going on today. So many pieces to put back together!