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The Sacred Journey: Rediscovering The Ottoman Hajj Route

Yunus Emre Enstitüsü – London recently launched a new exhibition and talk series, “The Sacred Journey: Rediscovering The Ottoman Hajj Routte."

Curated by Professor Andrew Petersen, the Director of Research in Islamic Archaeology at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, the exhibition charts this spiritual journey through history and recreates the life of the Ottoman Hajj through pictures, documents, maps and artefacts collected by Professor Petersen and his colleagues over years of archaeological work.

The Hajj and exhibition

The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam central to Muslim belief and is a deeply personal journey. It is a pilgrimage to Mecca that every Muslim must make at least once in their lifetime if they are able. Taking place for centuries, this historic journey is one of transformation as well as a sacred duty.

This pilgrimage evolved from an arduous journey that took months to a quicker and more comfortable journey with the development of modern means of travel. While no sultan undertook the journey, the Ottoman dynasty celebrated the Hajj’s importance over its six-century rule. Once the Empire gained control over Damascus, Egypt and Hijaz during the early part of the 16th century under Sultan Selim I, the pilgrimage was faced with a new opportunity for change. The new Hajj route started from the Balkans via Istanbul, Anatolia through Damascus, and Jerusalem. With Ottoman oversight, the route saw the development of vibrant public buildings, forts, mosques, water cisterns and Caravanserais which all fed into the dramatic social, cultural and economic change in the regions surrounding it.

The exhibition is free to visit until 17th December 2021, during Yunus Emre Institute in London’s opening hours, between 10am and 6pm.

You can also visit the exhibition virtually online:


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