Like Rumi of Konya, many scholars of Near East, Khorasan, and Central Asia started to move to Anatolia because of the Mongolian threat. At the beginning of the 13th Century, The Mongols started to expand their Khaganate to the West. By the end of the 13th Century, The Mongol Empire became the biggest Empire on the land and the second-biggest empire in the world after the British Empire. Because of the massive fear they created during their expansion from the center of Asia, thousands of people started to migrate to the West. Haji Bektash Veli was among these scholars who was born in Nishapur in Iran and moved to Anatolia to Hacibektas of Cappadocia. He lived in Hacibektas town which was called Suluca Kara Hoyuk in the 13th Century AD. The dervish lodge of Bektashi, which serves as a museum today grew in time thanks to the support of the members of the lodge, the notable Turkish people, and the Ottoman Sultans. Bektashi order had a great influence and power over the Janissaries of the Ottomans and many scholars of the lodge joined the conquers of the Ottoman armies into Europe and established many dervish lodges there.
Where is Hacıbektaş?
Hacıbektaş is a city of Nevşehir province. It is located north of Nevşehir city and closer to Nevsehir airport which is right next to Gulsehir city. A 45-minute drive will get you to Hacibektas where you can visit the Dervish Lodge of Haji Bektashi Vali and the small Museum of Hacibektas with artifacts from the Neolithic Mound of Suluca Kara Hoyuk. When you are in Cappadocia, you can explore Hacibektas in a half day.
Who is Haji Bektash?
Very little is known about Haji Bektash. Haji stands for the pilgrim in Arabic. Apparently, he also visited Mecca on the way to Anatolia and completed his pilgrimage duty. Pilgrimage is one of the five pillars of Islam. He stayed in the Kayseri, Sivas, and Kirsehir cities of Anatolia before finally settling in Suluca Kara Hoyuk nearby Cappadocia which is named after him today as Hacibektas. Haji Bektas is among the primary teachers of Alawites in Anatolia. Cousin of Prophet Mohammed, Ali is in the center of teachings of Shia Islam and Bektashi teachings are under the influence of Shia Islam and the twelve imams of Shia order. Like many migrating nomads from the steppes of Central Asia, Haji Bektas was inspired by the teachings of Hodja Ahmad Yasawi. Bektashi order is respected by the Ottomans and Turkish people despite the Sunni majority of Anatolia. Many members of the Bektashi order traveled with the armies of the Ottomans to Europe and established Bektashi lodges from Albania to Bulgaria today. Even if the order has traces in Egypt and Iraq, the Bektashi order did not survive there as in Europe today.
Hacibektas Dervish Lodge
Hacibektas Dervish Lodge construction began in the 13th Century after Haji Bektash passed away in 1271. The complex today was created in time by additions made by the murids of the lodge and Ottoman Sultans. It was restored by the Culture and Tourism Ministry of the Republic of Turkey between 1957 and 1964 and was converted to a Museum like today. Hacibektas Museum is among the top ten most visited museums of the Republic of Turkey. The museum consists of 3 sections. Not much is left from the first courtyard beside the fountain. A stall, bakery, and soup kitchen were located in this first courtyard which has not survived until today. Solomon's seal on the Ucler fountain is a very interesting detail of the museum. The second courtyard is surrounded by multiple buildings. The fountain with a lion statue is very important among the Bektashis. The central pool is surrounded by storages, soup kitchens, guesthouses, and a mosque. The last section of the Museum complex has two structures. One is for Balim Sultan who has systemized the teachings of Haji Bektash and the other bigger structure is the resting place of Haji Bektash which is surrounded by a meditation room, semah hall, and the burial chamber of Haji Bektash.
Semah of Bektashi Lodge
The Alavites of Shia Islam living in Anatolia perform a religious ritual that is unique in Islam. Male and female Alavites perform together along with Sufi music which is a very mystic way of a religious ritual. Many historians stress the Shamanistic traditions of Bektashi Sufism thanks to this spiritual performance held by the Alavites which is called Cem in the Turkish language. The Dervish lodges and theological schools were closed by the government of the Republic of Turkey in 1926. Until 2015, no Cem performance was held in the Hacibektas museum. The culture and Tourism Ministry of the Republic of Turkey allowed for a Cem performance in the Hacibektas museum in 2015. The alavites of Hacibektas perform Cem to the visitors of their city upon request at the Cultural Center next to the Museum of Hacibektas.
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