Whirling Dervishes! Along with everything else that smacked of the bad retrograde Ottoman days, the Whirling Dervishes were banned in the brave new world of the Turkish republic. Eventually, however, the government took pity on the hordes of visiting tourists and allowed the Galata Mevlevihanesi – which reopened after extended renovations in July 2011 – to stage shows. Several other atmospheric venues now hold Dervish performances including Sirkeci railway station and, around the corner from the terminal, the Hodjapasha Culture Center, a 500-year-old Turkish bath. Founded by the Persian mystic Rumi in the 13th-century in Konya, eastern Turkey, the Dervishes are considered by some outsiders as an archaic bunch of hippies. They believe ‘the fundamental condition of our existence is to revolve’ and aim their revolutions towards attaining a trancelike communion with the powers on high. Wherever you find a performance, the spinning devotees make a breathlessly spectacular sight to behold.