Dating back four centuries, the Mawlavi Lodge Foundation Museum located in the Turkish province of Gaziantep attracts local and foreign tourists interested in Mawlavi culture, offering an ethereal experience for visitors as they explore ancient Quran manuscripts dating back centuries.
Opened to visitors nearly 10 years ago by the Gaziantep Directorate of Foundations in the Kozluca neighborhood, the museum is home to 400 manuscripts which have been collected from mosques across Anatolia, as well as historical artifacts from ancient Turkish-Islamic culture.
The Quranic manuscripts that date back to the times of the Seljuks and the Ottomans receive the most attention from visitors, decorated in gold foils which offer a visual spectacle for the approximately 30,000 local and foreign tourists who visit the museum yearly.
Regional Director İsa Güven spoke to Anadolu Agency (AA), saying that the copies of the Quran on exhibit at the museum date back to between 100 and 700 years ago.
Expressing that they want to preserve the artifacts collected from several mosques in Gaziantep and Anatolia for the future generations, Güven said, "These artifacts, which have been preserved with such great care, must be seen by the future generations. We do our best to ensure this. Every single one of them is priceless and unique."Saying that it took tremendous effort to collect the copies of the Quran for the museum, Güven added, "The museum was opened to visitors in 2007. Since then, all of the artifacts visible here have been collected. We have such a rich culture; however, some pieces of our historical artifacts were damaged or exposed to the elements as a result of smuggling or damage as people do not always appreciate these artifacts. Thankfully, society is becoming more and more aware of the significance of these artifacts as time progresses. As museum officials, we are very meticulous in the handling of such issues. Among the handicraft pieces in the museum, there are copies of the Quran with translations written in Ottoman Turkish as well. I hope that these artifacts we have inherited from our ancestors will be passed down to future generations."
Stressing that the Gaziantep Mawlavi Lodge Foundation Museum has among the highest number of Quran manuscripts in Turkey, Güven added that restorative works of the paper copies of these manuscripts will be conducted in the near future to prevent the artifacts from further corrosion.
"This is my first visit to the Mawlavi Lodge Foundation Museum. It is such a mesmerizing place with chandeliers, carpets and Qurans. All of its visual aspects are fascinating. This museum has tremendous value for Gaziantep," one visitor from Istanbul, Oktay Aydın, said.
Ömer Akhuy, who is a native of Gaziantep, said he visits the museum often. Saying that the museum also has functioned as a community clinic, office of mufti and educational facility over the course of history, Akhuy said, "The museum is such a captivating place that whenever I pay a visit here, my entire world changes. The centuries-old Quranic manuscripts take me into a mystical universe. This place makes me happy."