The City of Nicosia (Lefkoşa), Cyprus  -


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Nicosia, Cyprus

Mevlevi Tekke (Museum of Whirling Dervishes)

Mevlevi Tekke (Museum of Whirling Dervishes)

The small museum is within the walls of the city and close to the Kyrenia Gate. It is on the main street leading to Sarayönü Square and can be distinguished by six domes surmounting a rectangular building.

Since its construction in the early 17th century it is known as the Mevlevi Tekke, where a Muslim religious sect used to hold ceremonial dances under the command of a sheikh. These regular functions went on for several hundred years and finally ceased in 1930 but the dance floor is still preserved.

In glass cases are the costumes worn by the dancers and their musical instruments. The dervishes who danced were the Islamic equivalent of Christian friars and their gyrations were often described in old guide books on Cyprus.

Other exhibits in the museum are manuscript books of the Koran and handwritten court records dating back to l590.

Also on view are Turkish Cypriot dresses and cooking utensils from peasants' houses - in a sense it is really a folk museum.

The whirling dervishes

A corridor leads to the tombs of five successive sheikhs who were the dance leaders since the I7th century. Each tomb has the stone figure of the camel hair hat which was their badge of office. The museum is not a mosque, so it is strange that one should be buried in one's place of work.

Outside, in the courtyard, are many marble tombstones of the Ottoman empire period and fragments of columns from Roman buildings. Old guide books mention that there was once a large marble sarcophagus of a Venetian governor, Augusto Canali, who died in 153 l, but it now seems to have disappeared.

The visitor will notice that there are very few here, as elsewhere in the island, remains of the Venetian occupation, apart from the massive walls and castles they built in Famagusta and Kyrenia. However, their period of occupation was short, less than a hundred years, - from I489 to 1571.

Opening Hours

  • Summer: 09.00-14.00

  • Winter: 09.00-13.00 / 14.00-16.45





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