The Mawlawi (Mevlevi) House is located on the Galata ridge, a short distance past the Galata Tower. Built in 1491 by Divane Mehmed Dede, then the Sheikh of Afyon Mawlawi House, it is the first of its kind built in Istanbul. Designed to be a Lodge for the Mevlevi order, a mystic branch of Sufism (which itself was founded in the 13th century), it is better known as the order for the Whirling Dervishes. Their practice of whirling as a form of remembrance of God, gave them this more common known name. Dervish is a common term for those taking the first steps as members of the Sufi order.
The building was damaged in an earthquake of 1509. The subsequent repairs turned it into a complex of buildings. A huge fire in 1765 destroyed the house but it was quickly rebuilt the same year. The function of the Mawlawi house ceased in 1925 following a decree ordering the closure of Dervish lodges. Following a brief period when the complex served as a school, it was opened as a museum in 1975.