Being one of the first residential areas of the universal history, Konya is a settling area with a long past reaching the prehistoric eras. Located at the south of Central Anatolia, the city was the capital of the Seljuk Empire between 1097 and 1277. Konya bringing up Islamic scholars is identified with Mevlana Jalal al-din Rumi, the world-famous muslim great scholar.
"Iconium" of the Roman times is 263 kms from Ankara. The land is a wide plateau and has been continuously inhabited even extending back to the 8th millenium BC.
Catalhoyuk is an ancient city of that period which is considered to be one of the first settlement areas in the world accommodating one of the earliest human communities. Made up of mud houses, which were entered through holes in the roofs, this site is a real place of interest where you can feel the life prevailing, many years ago. The finds from the district, including the cult figures of the famous temple and the mother goddess, together with old frescoes, are now on display in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara.
In the environs of Konya, there also exist sites which hold some remains from the Hittites. Ivriz is one, 168 kms east of Konya, which is one of the finest neo-Hittite reliefs in the country, representing a king and the fertility god of the time. Eflatun Pinar is another important sight, which is a monument fountain from the time of the Hittites, constituting a holy place of the period.
When the Byzantines came into power, Konya became an independent province and was given the name "Lycanoia." A Byzantine church and several rock chapels filled with beautiful frescoes can be seen in the town of Sille, 8 kms northwest of Konya, where the first rock carved monasteries of the world were built.
During the 12th and 13th centuries, the city acted as the capital of the Seljuk Turks and advanced rapidly to become a great cultural center.
The most famous building here is the Green Mausoleum of Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi, the great Turkish philosopher and poet. He is the founder of the sect of Whirling Dervishes, the seminary that was attached to the mausoleum. It has been converted into a museum housing Mevlana's works, and accoutrements related to his sect. Every year in December, ceremonies are held in Konya or the commemoration of Mevlana and the Whirling Dervishes. In this Dervish Festival, the "Sema" dance is performed by men dressed in white robes, whirling and rotating around the floor. This dance, in which the dancer with the great love of God is believed to attain divine unity, is an event well worth seeing.
On Alaeddin Hill in this region is the Alaeddin mosque and palace, which are fine 13th century monuments built during the reign of the famous Seljuk Sultan Alaeddin Keykubat.
Karatay Medresse, constructed in 1251, stands to the north of this hill, and is now a museum which holds the best examples of Seljuk tiles and ceramics. The Ince Minareli Medresse with its fascinating monumental portal, the Sircali Medresse, and the Iplikci Mosque are other Seljuk works in the city.
Beysehir, 94 kms west of Konya, was founded on the shores of Lake Beysehir, the third largest lake in the country. There are the attractive Seljuk monuments of Esrefoglu Mosque and its medresse and the Kubad-Abad Summer Palace.
Of particular interest is the town of Aksehir with its remains from the 13th century, the Ulu Mosque, the Sahip Ata Mausoleum and the Altinkale Mescid. This land, 130 km northwest of Konya, is the birthplace of the famous Turkish humorist Nasreddin Hoca, whose mausoleum is here.
The various museums, comprising rich collections of historical finds, are other interesting sights in Konya. Especially of interest is the Archaeological Museum which should be visited for its charming pieces, including the Sidemara Sarcophagus. The Koyunoglu Museum, with the Izzettin Koyunoglu House inside it, constitutes a beautiful complex; the Ethnographical Museum and Ataturk's House are also at the service of history lovers.