Driven out of Pisidian Antioch, Paul and Barnabas headed southeast for the city of Iconium, and they stayed there for "a long time.



Iconium was about 60 miles from Pisidian Antioch. It lay on the western edge of a great high plain of the Anatolian Plateau. It was backed by Bozkr Mountain on the west and enclosed by the interior edges of the central Taurus ranges further south. Today, it is called Konya.

Map of central Turkey with loction of Konya-Iconium

Below, inscription that includes the name Iconium, now in the Archaeological
Museum in Konya.

iconium inscription



In the footsteps of Paul – Iconium

Konya, the successor to ancient Iconium, is a large metropolis of brightly painted buildings. The city hasn't bothered to post distracting street or highway signs. At about 3300 feet elevation, it gets cool, but it also gets clouds of dust in summer and blizzards in winter.

konya view

Below, another view of Iconium, with mosques, at sunset.

konya view

Below, Alâeddin Hill, the ancient acropolis, in the middle of the city. Beneath the dome-like structure are the scant remains of the Seljuk Imperial Palace. Here, too,
are the remains of the city wall, although it has been covered for protection. Once reinforced by 108 towers, it was removed at the beginning of the 20th century during modernization efforts.

amcient acropolis

Christian monuments include the church of Amphilochius inside the city and
several shrines nearby. Additionally, Konya retains a number of buildings (now used as museums) from the Selçuk period.

Konya's most famous building is the Mevlâna museum (below), the mausoleum of Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, a Sufi (a Muslim sect) mystic, also known as Mevlâna or Rumi, founder of the Mevlevi order, better known in the West as the whirling dervishes, so-called for their twirling ritual dance.

mevlana museum

Below, tomb of Mevlâna

Tomb of Mevlans inside the museum

Konya's association with the Dervishes makes it a place of pilgrimage for Muslims. Every year, in the first half of December, a ceremony commemorates the Whirling Dervishes. The controlled, trance-like whirling of the white-robed men creates a mystical experience for the viewer. The dancers spin round and round in an attempt
at total unity with God. As they twirl, they free themselves from bondage to earthly things. Their costumes are symbolic. During the ritual they shed their black cloaks representing their escape from the tomb and the bonds of the flesh. Their long white robes are their burial shrouds and their conical hats are their tombstones.

whirling dervishes

Paul preaches the Gospel in Iconium When Paul and Barnabas arrived in Iconium they made themselves known to the Jewish community and were invited to speak in the synagogue. Many of the congregation, both Jews and God-fearing Gentiles, were converted to the Gospel. But the unbelieving Jews "stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers" (Acts 14:2).

Despite the opposition, the two "spent considerable time (in Iconium)" continuing to preach fearlessly for the Lord, "who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders." It seems the intellectually curious Greeks, ever anxious to hear some new thing, flocked to hear them. However, the conflict between the apostles and their Jewish opponents polarized the people. The anti-Christian party prevailed and, with the permission of the "authorities," a number
of Jews and Gentiles plotted to stone the two men. But the apostles got word of the threat against them and decided that it was time to take their message elsewhere, and they moved on, following the Via Sebaste to Lystra.


Continue to Lystra