"[We] set out for the country of the Turks. ... It was conquered by the Muslims, but there are still large numbers of Christians there under the protection of the Turkmen Muslims. We traveled on the sea for ten nights, and the Christians treated us honorably and took no passage money from us. On the tenth day we arrived at Alanya [where the province begins]. This country ... is one of the finest in the world; in it God has brought together the good things dispersed throughout other lands...[Gibb, p. 415 - 416]


Ibn Battuta spent about one year in Mecca studying and making his third pilgrimage. He had been thinking more and more about going to get work under the Sultan of Delhi, now part of Muslim controlled India. The sultan was welcoming scholars and judges from abroad and gave them high paying jobs. But first Ibn Battuta had to find a guide, someone who could speak Persian and knew India well. So in 1330 he went to the town of Jidd on the Red Sea. After looking unsuccessfully for a guide to India for several months, he decided to continue his travels. This time he would go northward to Anatolia (modern Turkey). From there he could connect with Turkish caravans going to India. He traveled back into Egypt where he met a friend, and they went by caravan to Damascus, Syria, and from there set out for Anatolia.


Anatolia (Turkey)

Ibn Battuta's small group left Syria on a large galley (a trading ship) belonging to the Genoese (from Italy) and arrived at Alanya (or Alaya) in Anatolia. This town was a busy trading port, especially known for its wood which was shipped to Egypt and Syria.

"[We] set out for the country of the Turks. ... It was conquered by the Muslims, but there are still large numbers of Christians there under the protection of the Turkmen Muslims. We traveled on the sea for ten nights, and the Christians treated us honorably and took no passage money from us. On the tenth day we arrived at Alanya [where the province begins]. This country ... is one of the finest in the world; in it God has brought together the good things dispersed throughout other lands. Its people are the most comely (handsome) of men, the cleanest in their dress, the most delicious in their food, and the kindliest folk in creation. Wherever we stopped in this land, whether at a hospice or a private house, our neighbors both men and women (these do not veil themselves) came to ask after our needs. When we left them they bade us farewell as though they were our relatives and our own folk, and you would see "[Gibb, p. 415 - 416]

Alanya, Turkey

While he praised the Turks' hospitality and their commitment to the Sunni Muslim faith, he was surprised that "they eat hashish [Indian hemp, a type of drug like marijuana], and think no harm of it." [Gibb, p. 124]

Ibn Battuta also described the citadel at Alanya. The ruins of the citadel, shown in the picture above, are a popular modern tourist destination.

"There is a magnificent and formidable citadel [or fort] at the upper end of town. ... At the northwestern corner is a place where prisoners condemned to death were hurled over the precipice by means of catapults." (Gibb. 124)

camel image to indicate side trip Take a side trip to learn more about Anatolia's history.

Yivli minaret in Atalia

"From Alaya I went to Antaliya [Adalia], a most beautiful city... one of the most attractive towns to be seen anywhere... Each section of the inhabitants lives in a separate quarter. The Christian merchants live in a quarter of the town ... and are surrounded by a wall, the gates of which are shut upon them from without at night and during the Friday service. The Greeks ... live by themselves in another quarter, the Jews in another, and the king and his court and mamluks (slaves) in another, each of these quarters being walled off likewise. The rest of the Muslims live in the main city. Round the whole town and all the quarters mentioned there is another great wall." [Gibb, p. 124.]

In every town that Ibn Battuta visited, he was welcomed into a fraternity of Muslim brothers. They provided him with food and shelter, and even competed with other fraternities for the honor of entertaining their guests.

"We stayed here at the college mosque of the town... Now in all the lands inhabited by the Turkmens in Anatolia, in every district, town and village, there are to be found members of the organization known as the ... Young Brotherhood. Nowhere in the world will you find men so eager to welcome strangers, so prompt to serve food and to satisfy the wants of others... The members of this community work during the day to gain their livelihood, and bring ... what they have earned in the late afternoon. With this they buy fruit, food, and the other things which the hospice requires for their use. If a traveler comes to town that day they lodge him.... and he stays with them until he goes away. If there are no travelers they themselves assemble to partake of the food, and having eaten it they sing and dance. On the morrow they return to their occupations and bring their earnings to their leader in the late afternoon." [Gibb.]

16th century miniature painting of whirling dervishes

Ibn Battuta also visited Konya, famous home of the Sufi poet Rumi. Dance and whirling were popular in Turkey and Persia with the Sufi brothers. It was a way to become in ecstasy with God, as if in a trace. Below is a modern ceremony - the dancers are sometimes called "whirling dervishes".

SUFI WHIRLING DERVISHES DANCE OF ISTANBUL