Hacibektas, is 40 minutes drive from Goreme, located in northern Cappadocia. It is the center of Bektasi sect of Islam founded by the great philosopher Haci Bektas-i Veli in 13th century. You can visit the dervis dergah (lodge) which is a museum today, cilehane (suffering house), bestaslar (five stones) and a cemevi (an alevi temple) in Hacibektas. If your visit is timed for August, you will be able to watch the international commemoration ceremonies, and get an idea of the living traditions of the order’s followers. Hacibektas is the sacred center of Alevi Islam, and every year on 16, 17 and 18 August, tens of thousands of people flock here, not just from Turkey, but from Bulgaria, Albania and other Balkan countries.
HACI BEKTAS-I VELI" How glad for those who shed light into the darkness of thought. "
These words, written by Haci Bektas-i Veli, the famous Turkish-Islamic mystic, philosopher, and dervish from Khorasan, echo delicately in our ears as we enter the dervishes' convent. The lines, fraught with meaning, impart peace and love to our souls and transport us to the worlds completely different from our own. The stamp of Haci Bektas-i Veli's imprint upon Turkish, Islamic, and world history is deep and unmatched. Let us, therefore, attempt to become acquainted with and develop a sense for his world, filled as it is with love for humanity and for the universe, never forgetting that this is the path of love, the path of peace, the path of knowledge, the path of belief.
In Khorasan's city of Nishabur, most likely in the years between 1243 and 1248, a son was born to Seyyid Ibrahim Sani and his wife Hatern Hatun, the daughter of Sheik Ahmet. His mother's compassion and his father's love for equality and humanity were the foundations upon which his upbringing was based and such sentiments informed and enriched his boyhood years. His studies under the tutelage of Hoca Ahmet Yesevi of Turkestan equipped him with a knowledge of positive scielices and in the school of his illustrious philosopher-mentor, he studied mathematics and physics along with literature and philosophy. Under Sheik Lokman Perende, one of Ahmet Yesevi's successors, he studied mysticism. From the works of the poet Omar Khayyam, Feridettin Attar, and Sheik Numan he took his inspiration. Khorasan possessed a vast cultural heritage that had nourished many a scholar and philosopher. Haci Bektas-i Veli completed his studies in Khorasan, acquiring from them a broad and genial view of the world. His education encouraged this young Islamic mystic to become better acquainted with humanity, and Haci Bektas-i Veli began to seek the fire of infinite love within himself. Becoming a well-known Sufi, he set out from Khorasan to make the pilgrimage to Mecca. Leaving Mecca, he traveled to Syria and then continued his journeys in Persia, Iraq, and Arabia. During these years, Anatolia was in a state of severe political and economic disarray. Haci Bektas-i Veli was affected by this situation and came to Anatolia with the idea of restoring fragmented Turkish unity, and took part in the effort to make the peninsula a Turkish and Muslim homeland.
The principles and elements of Haci Bektas-i Veli's philosophy and life became the foundation on which the Bektashi dervish order developed. Bektashism was based on four tenets or "doors":
- the Door of the Shariah (Religious Law),
- the Door of Mysticism,
- the Door of Truth,
- and the Door of Spiritual Knowledge.
Some of the most known aphorisms of Haci Bektas-i Veli are:
- Seek and find. Do not hurt even if you are hurt yourself.
- Educate your women. Control your deeds, tongue, and desires.
- Whatever you seek, look for it in yourself. The adept are both pure and purifying.
- The first step of a talent is modesty. A person's perfection lies in the beauty of what he says.
- Condemn no nation or person. Do not impose on someone that which is too burdensome for him to bear.
- The end of the road that does not pass through knowledge is darkness. How glad for those who shed light into the darkness of thought.
- Prophets and saints are God's gift to humanity.
HACI BEKTAS-I VELI MUSEUM, THE DERGAHWhen you visit the Dervish Dergah (lodge) in the center of the town, you will be introduced to the Alevi order, one of the biggest heterodox branches of Islam. The Dergah or Dervish lodge of Hacibektas became a museum in 1964. The entrance leads into a large courtyard, to the right of which once stood buildings accommodating the dervishes who worked the land and farm laborers employed by the lodge. These buildings were demolished when the lodge was being converted into a museum, and a wall was built here. At the far end of this wall is the Ucler Fountain symbolizing the Creator, Muhammed and Ali, a fundamental concept of the Alevi faith. An open space on the left is like a small park, and originally there were stables for the horses of guests, barns and other outbuildings here. At the end of the courtyard a gate leads into a second courtyard, where there is a pool with a border of flowers. You can drink from the holy water of the Lion Fountain. The inscription over this fountain explains that the lion statue was brought from Egypt as a gift to the lodge in 1853. The second courtyard was the busiest part of the lodge, with the asevi (refectory), pantry, hamam (baths), guest house, hall where the sacred services known as cem were held, and the pavilion where the lodge's leader, the Dedebaba, received guests. The final gateway leads into the third courtyard where the tomb of Haci Bektas Veli stands. On the right are the graves of dervishes belonging to the lodge, and in the small mausoleum just beyond lie Balim Sultan and Kalender Sah, two great figures of the order. The ancient wishing tree in front of the mausoleum is one of the places where visitors stop. Before entering the mausoleum it is customary for visitors to embrace the cylindrical marble stone in the right-hand corner. If you can embrace it with two arms, then it is regarded as proof that your heart is clean and your intentions are pure. The tomb was built by Seyhsuvar Ali, lord of the Dulkadirogullari principality, in 1519 following the death of Balim Sultan.
The walls of the mausoleum are decorated with painted kalem isi, and there are examples of Bektasi calligrapher. The door is original. The mausoleum of Haci Bektas Veli himself is known as Pir Evi, and at the entrance are the graves of the baba's of the order, dervishes who attained the highest degree. As you walk towards the Kirklar Meydani hall, on the right you pass the cilehane, a cell where the dervishes spent time alone in the presence of God. If you wish to see inside you must bend almost double, and a few minutes alone in that dark cell gives you an impression at least of what it must have been like for the dervishes who came here. On the raised platform to the left of the Kirklar Meydani are buried the descendants of Haci Bektas who sat on the ceremonial fleece of office and were known as celebi or bel evlatlari. In this hall where the dervishes performed the ceremonial dance known as the kirklar semahi, are now exhibited the twelve sided stones known as teslim tasi which the dervishes hung around their necks as symbols of the Bektasi order, earrings worn by unmarried dervishes who devoted their lives to serving their lodge, handwriting of the Caliph Ali on gazelle skin, beautiful examples of calligraphy, torches, censers, and the Kirkbudak Candelabra which according to the Velayetname came from India. Finally a small door on the right leads into the tomb chamber of Haci Bektas Veli, where visitors perambulate three times around the sarcophagus before offering up a supplication to Haci Bektas Veli. Near the lodge is Dedebagi, an open park scattered with trees, where visitors who have come for the commemoration ceremonies gather to picnic and drink the ice cold spring water from a fountain known as Sekerpinar.
This is a cave located on Mt. Arafat three kilometers east of town, which, according to some, was used by Haci Bektas-i Veli as an ordeal cell. A local popular belief holds a person who passes through the hole in the rock will be purged of his sins. Also on the hill are a sacred spring, the Hact Bektas-i Veli, Yunus Emre, and Ozanlar (Bards) monuments, and a theater seating 5,000 people. The tomb of Mahsun-i Serif, the great Turkish poet and composer, who died recently is also in Cilehane.
This site is located near Civril village about five kilometers north of town. The five huge rocks (Bestaslar means "Five Rocks") are geologically unusual and there is a legend told about them that is related in detail in Velayetname. According to the legend, these are the five stones who came to witness that Haci Bektas-i Veli is telling the truth. You will learn all the legends about Haci Bektas and other parts of Cappadocia from your guide.
In Turkish Heritage Travel, you can tailor make private tours including Hacibektas. The rate of full day private tours is 130 Euro per person including entrance fees, professional guide, lunch and transfers.
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PLACES TO VISIT IN CAPPADOCIAThere are so many fascinating things to see in Cappadocia that you could spend a lifetime here and still discover new places. The main 'must-see' attractions are the two large open-air museums and the best of the underground cities. However, there are also many small, all-but-forgotten rock-cut churches and monasteries, splendid hiking trails, several spectacular caravanserais and many dramatic rock formations well worth going out of your way to visit.
- Goreme Open Air Museum: cave churches with frescoes
- Zelve Open Air Museum: an empty cave town with churches
- Kaymakli Underground City: the largest underground city
- Derinkuyu Underground City: the deepest underground city
- Ihlara Valley: the deepest gorge of Anatolia
- Uchisar: Roman rock-cut castle
- Ortahisar: Roman rock-cut castle
- Avanos: center of pottery since the Hittites
- Pasabag: mushroom-shaped fairy chimneys, monks valley
- Devrent: animal-shaped fairy chimneys, imagination valley
- Hacibektas: center of Bektasi sect of Islam
- Gulsehir: first settlements in Cappadocia
- Forgotten Cave Churches: churches located in the valleys
- Caravanserais: 13th century hotels on the silk road