If Istanbul is the cultural capital of Turkey, then Konya is the religious capital. Drawing people from all over the Muslim world, the Mausoleum of Celaleddin Rumi, or Mevlâna, is an important pilgrimage site because of Rumi's role in founding the Whirling Dervishes, a sect of Islam famed for its costumes and spinning-top ritual dances. This is the main religion practiced in Turkey today and this city is studded with stunning religious buildings and early Seljuk Mosques.
Ince Minare Medrese is among Konya's finest Seljuk buildings, with lavish vaulted interiors and ornate exterior walls, while nearby Büyük Karatay Medresesi, dating from around the same period, sports a dome gilded with the blue tiles archetypical of Arabic architecture.
Bisecting the region is one of the best-preserved sections of the Old Silk Road, the route that first opened up trade between Europe and the exotic eastern world. Karatay Han, located on the edge of Konya, is one of the old camel staging posts that lined the length of this route and makes for an atmospheric morning exploration en route to Cappadocia or the nearby lakes.