Whirling Dervishes Show Istanbul (2024 Sema Guide with Tickets)

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Whirling Dervishes Ceremony or Show (“Sema” in Turkish) is one of the most visited Istanbul attractions with the tourists. It is because that this ceremony is a very unusual event for the tourists and when they hear about it, majority of them try to catch this one hour show and witness the miracle of the whirling dervishes.

Before we tell about where to find the Whirling Dance Ceremony in Istanbul, we want to give brief information below about what are the Whirling Dervishes and the Ceremony and why they do whirl.

Where to Watch Whirling Dervishes Show Istanbul?

There are several places to watch Whirling Dervishes Show/Performance in Istanbul. Some of them are living places that continue the Mevlevi culture, and some of them are touristic ones. For touristic shows, there are 2 top venues: Hodjapasha Culture Center and Sirkeci Orient Express Hall. Both located at Sirkeci. Feel free to book online in advance (as you’ll get discounts), by choosing the eco-friendly option of online tickets below.

Buy Whirling Dervishes Tickets at Hodjapasha Culture Center

Buy Whirling Dervishes Tickets at Orient Express Hall

What Is Whirling Dervishes Ceremony (Sema)?

Whirling dance ceremony, “Sema” in Turkish, is a mystical ceremony and part of the most important heritages from the Islam culture, inspired and improved by Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumi (1207-1273), a world famous Islamic mystical poet, theologian and a spiritual master (Sufi). It originates from the city of Konya and dates back to more than 800 years.


Sufis (Mevlevi in Turkish), also called Dervishes, are the ones who are dedicated their lives to seek and find a more close relationship with God.

And according to Mevlana’s disciples, this mystical journey for God is made through worship, prayers, a complex musical repertoire called “ayin” and this unique whirling dance ceremony. The Sufi who make this whirling dance ceremony are called Whirling Dervishes, “Semazen” in Turkish.

Who Performs the Ceremony?

The Whirling Dervishes performances are organised by local non-profit groups.

Why They Whirl?

Whirling dervishes ceremony is a mystical journey representing the Man’s spiritual ascent through mind, going towards the truth, be exalted with love and quit from his own “self” to get vanished in God and than coming back as a more matured man.

What is the Idea in this Disciple?

When we examine this mystical ceremony in scientific terms, we see that the whirling or spinning act is the basic condition of existence. The common similarity between the beings in the universe, from the smallest bit to the farthest stars, is the rotation of the electrons and protons within their atoms, which forms the structure of each being.

And while everything whirls, we, the human beings also whirl naturally and unconsciously by means the body atoms’ spins, the turning journey of the blood in the body, coming from the earth and returning to the earth and turning with the world along the universe.

What makes the human beings different and above from the other beings is the “Mind”. And so the Dervishes participate to all those beings common turnings with their whirls together with their minds.


No Regrets Booking Advice




And so they make a mystical journey for God and come back to its servitude as a human being. It is return to all beings and creatures with a new spirit, love and service. As Whirling dervishes take off their coats, they do take a mystical journey to the eternal world and the truth.

Video Tour

1. Galata Mevlevi House Museum

The Galata Mevlevi House Museum, also known as Mevlevihanesi, is renowned for being an authentic Mevlevi Whirling Dervish hall. Established in 1491, it holds historical significance as one of the most important Ottoman works in Beyoğlu.

Galata Mevlevi Lodge is a museum, that Turkish calligraphic art items, music items and items belonging to Mevlevi culture are exhibited. The museum is celebrated for preserving the cultural and spiritual heritage of the Mevlevi order, offering visitors a unique glimpse into the mystical traditions of the Whirling Dervishes.

Wanna learn more about Galata Mevlevi Lodge & Museum?

2. Yenikapi, Eyup & Ismail Dede Efendi Mevlevi Lodges

Yenikapi Mevlevi Lodge in Yenikapi district, Eyup Bahariye Mevlevi Lodge in Eyup district, Ismail Dede Efendi Mevlevi Lodge in Cankurtaran. In the high season, they offer Whirling Dervishes Performance every day at 19:00.

All the halls ask for reservation. You may take info and make reservation from +90 505 678 06 18 , +90 535 210 45 65 , www.rumimevlevi.com

3. Hodjapasha Culture Center (Highly Recommended)

Located in Sirkeci, close to the Sirkeci train station and set in a restored 550-year-old Ottoman Turkish bath, this is the most tourist taking venue for Whirling Dervishes Performance in Istanbul.


The performances take place every day at 19:00 (Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday in winter). They also offer Rhythm of the Dance Show (Turkish Dance), a combination of folk dances performed by professional dancers.

Address: Hoca Paşa Mahallesi, Ankara Caddesi, Hocapaşa Hamamı Sk. 3/B, Fatih (See location map)

How to Book?

Booking online is by far the best and the most convenient way to attend the show. You may not find a ticket at ticket window on location.

Tip: The show is very popular among the majority of the tourists, and you should buy your tickets at least 2 or 3 days in advance, as many dates are selling quickly. Free cancellation with a FULL REFUND up to 24 hours in advance

Buy Hodjapasha Whirling Dervishes Ticket Online

4. Sirkeci Orient Express Hall (Recommended)

Located in Sirkeci Train Station, in the Historical Orient Express Hall, just within short walking distance from Sirkeci Tram station, this is a popular venue for Whirling Dervishes Performance in Istanbul.

How to Book?

Booking Whirling Dervishes Show at Sirkeci Orient Express Hall ONLINE is by far the best and the most convenient way to attend the show. You may not find a ticket at ticket window on location. And this is cheaper than the one in Hodjapasha Culture Center.

Tip: The show is very popular among the majority of the tourists, and you should buy your tickets at least 2 or 3 days in advance, as many dates are selling quickly.

Buy Orient Express Whirling Dervishes Ticket Online

Rebooking & Cancellation Policy: You want to cancel? No problem, you can cancel your reservation anytime and get your refund.


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15 COMMENTS

  1. Hi my wife and I will be going to Istanbul 30th April to the 4th of may will the dance take place while we are there and we’re can we see it
    Stephen

  2. Thank you for such a comprehensive write-up about the history, context and where to see the Sema ceremony. Which among the venues would you say is the least touristic?

    • Hi Nancy, thank you. Well the Sirkeci Orient Express Hall and Sirkeci Hodjapasha Culture Center are the two top tourist venues for the show. The rest list on the page are the least tourist ones. You should call or email them to make sure they are giving service as due to pandemy, majority of these kinda venues stopped giving service. Best

  3. Helo, I will reach on 20 October to Istanbul for one week will be staying in Galata, I want your recommendation for the best whirling dervishes other than historical Hamamizade İsmail Dede Efendi Evi as I already visited it two years before, also best aquarium to take my kids 14 and 17 years old.

    thank you

    • Hi Christine, thank you. Well there are two popular tourist venues for whirling dervishes; Orient Express Hall and Hodjapasha Culture Center. Both are located in Sirkeci. For aquariums, you can take your kids to Sea Life Istanbul in Bayrampasa or Istanbul Aquarium in Florya. You are able to get your tickets online or on location. Just bear in mind you may need to buy whirling dervishes shows in advance as tickets may sell out. Best

  4. Is there anywhere in Istanbul we can see the whirling dervishes on Saturday or Sunday ? We’ve checked a few places and they all seem closed with Covid

    • Hi Saara, there are no ceremony at the weekends for now. I guess they may start like on Saturdays only after late April or May.

    • Glad you enjoyed the show. Well in Konya, the whirling dervishes show take place every Saturdays at the Mevlana Culture Center (http://www.mkm.gov.tr/). In addition there is an annual ceremony called “Seb-i Aruz” take place between 07-17 December.

  5. It was an excellent experience. The location was cool for it’s historical background. The arrangements were simple but that did not affect the performance at all. From starting to the end, the ritual was captivating. Highly recommend.

  6. Шоу впечатлило. Без всякого Микса с танцами живота, подтанцовок со стороны зрителей и т. д. В помещении Восточного экспресса, с прекрасным музыкальным сопровождением танец Дервишей ещё глубже подгружает тебя в неповторимый колорит Стамбула . Благодарю за доставленное удовольствие.

  7. It was such a beautiful experience. The music was mesmerising and watching the whirling dervishes was transcendent. I just wish people wouldn’t applaud during and after the ceremony. It felt wrong to me since we were just privileged to witness their spiritual practice. It didn’t feel like they were doing it for us, which I loved. I highly recommend this experience.

  8. What a lovely evening. The music was transcendent, the venue was majestic (the old train station depot for the Orient Express, no less!), and the dancers in their ritual were just breath taking and trance inducing. Do yourself a favor and experience this magic!

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