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Introducing Konya

Turkey’s equivalent of the ‘Bible Belt’, conservative Konya treads a delicate path between its historical significance as the home town of the whirling dervish orders and a bastion of Seljuk culture on the one hand, and its modern importance as an economic boom town on the other.

Luckily the city derives considerable charm from this juxtaposition of old and new. Ancient mosques and the mazey market district, awash with Eastern smells, eager shopkeepers and Muslim pilgrims, rub up against contemporary Konya around Alaaddin Tepesi, where hip-looking university students talk religion and politics freely in the tea gardens.

Many travellers don’t even consider stopping in Konya, but if you are passing through this region, say from the coast to Cappadocia, bear in mind that the wonderful shrine of the Mevlâna here is one of Turkey’s finest and most characteristic sights. The city’s collection of imposing Seljuk buildings should also keep building buffs happy, and at the very least you can get a good dinner here.