By Engin Ozekinci
KONYA, Turkey (AA) - A museum in central Anatolia dedicated to Mevlana Rumi, the famed 13th-century Muslim mystic poet, has become the third-most popular museum in Turkey.
The Mevlana Museum, located in Konya, drew more than 2.8 million local and foreign tourists last year, becoming the number three museum destination after the Hagia Sophia Museum and Topkapi Palace, both in Istanbul.
Abdussettar Yarar, the provincial culture and tourism director, said over the past six months the number of visitors has jumped 13%. Iranian, Chinese, Taiwanese, American, and South Korean tourists are the most frequent visitors, he added.
“We provide visitors information about Mevlana Rumi,” he said. “Our activities continue to promote the historical, tourist, and cultural heritage of our city, especially Mevlana Rumi.”
- Former convent and tomb
The area where the museum is located in Konya’s central Karatay district was left to Bahaeddin Veled, the poet’s father, by Alaeddin Keykubad, a Seljuk sultan.
When Rumi passed away on Dec. 12, 1273 -- called Seb-i Arus, the “wedding night” when he reached God -- he was laid to rest near his father. The Green Dome, the site of Rumi’s tomb, was built there later.
The Mevlana Dervish Convent and Tomb opened in 1926, and in 1954 became the Mevlana Museum.
*Writing by Erdogan Cagatay Zontur