Very close to the Sultan Hassan mosque lies one of my favorite places in Cairo, el samaakhana. That’s the place where a sect of the mevlevi order where staying in Cairo from 1607 till 1945. The place was restored beautifully, keeping its spirit intact. It’s very peaceful and serene, even though a building loses parts of its “spirit”/ “feeling” when its inhabitants leave. I really hoped to see the sema ceremony performed there not in the opera house!!The order of the Mawlawi dervishes, commonly known as the “Whirling Dervishes” fraternity of Sufis was founded in Konya, Turkey, by the Persian Sufi poet Jalal ad-Din ar-Rumi (1273), whose popular title Mawlana (“our master”) gave the order its name. Along with the Ottoman expansion, this order spread through the Islamic world with many centers connected with the Mother House in Konya. The order moved from Konya to Aleppo, Syria in 1925, then to Damascus, and in 1929 the Mawlawi Order came to Cairo and settled in the area at the foot of the Citadel near the Sultan Hassan Mosque. The word Sama in Arabic means listening, which was a “Sufi” practice of listening to music and chanting to be drawn closer to God. The Mawlawi Dervishes combined Sama with dancing. The Cairo SamaKhana was also the last to remain active after the edict that closed the Tekkiya and the dissolution of the Dervishes Turkish confraternities by Ataturk in 1925. The Cairo Mawlawi group was also dissolved in 1945 and the whole complex was abandoned. – touregypt
For more info check out the paper prepared for the restoration of this place written by Giuseppe Fonfani and Arch Net Library… It’s very impressive!