of Van sits by Lake Van, and was the ancient Urartian
capital of Tuspa. It is situated in a green, fertile oasis in
the midst of rocky mountains. An impressive citadel stands
on one of these peaks and dates back to the 9th- century BC. There are
steps carved into rock leading to the fortress, and while descending you
will be able to see some cuneiform inscriptions paying homage to Persian
King, Xerxes of the 5th- century BC. In the fortress, the Urartian royal
tombs are of interest. The surrounding area is full of Urartian remains.
In the old city there are many mosques and mausoleums such as the Ulu
Mosque, the Husrev Pasa Mosque, the Kaya Celebi
Mosque and the Ikiz Kumbet. The Archaeological Museum
in the new city exhibits the Urartian finds. At Van Harbour
you may find pleasant places to rest. For swimming and camping you may
head for Edremit, 14 kms to the southwest. It is a holiday
resort center from where you may do some sightseeing excursions. At Gevas,
there is a Seljuk graveyard, filled with extraordinary headstones, as
well as the lovely Halime Hatun Tomb.
Lake Van is the largest lake
in Turkey and provides good opportunities for enjoyable excursions. You
may go trekking or hunting in the mountains surrounding it, especially
Mount Suphan, the second highest mountain in Turkey after
Mount Ararat. Alternatively you may head for on the beach, or visit the
Urartian sites and Turkish cultural centres. The islands on the lake are
also interesting, most of them housing many monasteries and churches.
The most important of these is the Akdamar Island with its
10th- century church of Holy Cross. The church is now restored as a museum
and its richly decorated walls have Old Testament reliefs.
After visiting the museum you may rest at the beneath lakeside the almond
trees, where there are good opportunities for picnicking and swimming.
Carpanak Island is also interesting and deserves a visit.
Hosab, 67 kms east, has a magnificent old fortress fronted by huge walls.
At Cavustepe, there is an Urartian site, which is 25 kms
from Van on the Hakkari road.
88 kms north of Van, are the Muradiye
Waterfalls, perfect place to rest while listening to natures harmony
at one of the restaurants or tea gardens around the falls. Van is also
famous for its Van cat, a pure white, longhair cat which has the strange
feature of one blue eye and the other green.
It was built within the capital of the Uratu
State, Tushba during the 9th century B.C. The castle fell into the bands
of the Assyrians during the early 7th century B.C. when the Urartus were
defeated and fled from the region. The castle also carries imprints of
the Selçuk, Karakoyunlu, Akkoyunu and the Ottoman eras. The most
important sections in the castle are the rock cells and inscriptions belonging
to the Urartus. The castle also contains a mosque built by Sultan Süleyman