Museum of Ethnography

Not far from the Kerinia Gate, if you go south along Girne Street (Girne Caddesi – Turkish), you can see an old building built at the end of the 17th – beginning of the 18th centuries. The rectangular space of its courtyard with a garden is covered with identical hemispherical domes. This is a former Muslim monastery of dancing dervishes.

The Order of Dervish Dancers was founded in the 13th century by the Sufi mystic poet Jelaladdin Rumi. The main part of the rites of the Order were ritual dances to the sounds of a reed flute, during which its members entered into a state of trance. In the large hall of the monastery – semakhane (Turkish. Semahane – “the hall for dancing”) – dervishes, rotating under the mystical music, reached a special, enlightened state of consciousness.

Unlike Turkey, this monastery of dancing dervishes was the only one in Cyprus. Today, in one of the vaulted galleries of the museum there are identical stone sarcophagi in a row, topped with turban. 15 superiors of the Order of Dervishes are buried there. After the Order was abolished by Turkish President Ataturk in 1925, an orphanage was established in the building. And since 1963, the Cyprus-Turkish Ethnographic Museum has been opened here (Mevlevi Tekke Muzesi – Turkish).