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A beautiful and mysterious landscape full of tradition
The Eastern City

Van is the major city of Turkey’s Van Province and is located on the Eastern Shore of Lake Van.

It has been a large city since the first millennium BC, initially as the capital of the Urartu Kingdom in the 9th century BC and later the Byzantine. It then became the centre of the Armenian Kingdom of Vaspurakan. It remained an important centre of Armenian culture until 1915. Today the majority of the population in Van are Kurdish. The population numbers around 550,000.

Archaeological excavations and surveys carried out in The Van Province indicate that the history of human settlement in this region goes back as far as 5000 BC. The Tilkitepe Mound, which is on the shores of Lake Van and a few kilometres to the south of Van Castle is the only source of information about the oldest culture of Van.

In the 7th century BC it was ruled by the Orontids and later in the 6th century BC Van came under the control of the Persians.. Van was conquered by Alexander the Great and then after his death became part of the Seleucid Empire. By the 2nd Century BC it was part of the Kindgom of Armenia.

The region was held for a few years by the Byzantine Empire and then the Muslim Arabs. Later in 1021 it was ceded by Artsruni again to the Byzantium Empire. Incursions by the Seljuk Turks started in 1050. The Mongols held power until the 1240s ruled again in the 14th Century.

In the 1500s Van was the centre of conflict between the Ottoman and the Persian Empires. The Ottomans finally took the city in 1548. Towards the end of the 19th century. Van began to play an increasing important role in the politics between the Ottoman Persian and Russian Empires because of its proximity to the regions.

During the Turkish War of Independence under the Treaty of Sevres. it was ceded to the Republic of Armenia. However this was rejected by Mustafa Kemal and in 1920 it again fell under Turkish control. By the end of the conflicts, the town of Van was empty and in ruins. After the war the city was rebuilt a few kilometers east of the ancient citadel.


What to See

Some of the most important ancient sites in and around Van are Altintepe, Kaleci,and Yoncatepe Necropolis, and Tilkitepe, Karagunduz and Dilkaya mounds.

The Bartholomeys, Altinsac and Lim Monastery and Seven Churches in addition to the Husrev Pasa, Kaya Celebi and Izzettin Sir mosques are the religious sites worthy of a visit.

Lake Van is the largest lake in Turkey. It is a saline soda lake receiving its water from small streams from the mountains. Lake Van is one of the world’s largest endorheic lakes (without outlet). The original outlet was blocked by a volcanic eruption from Nemrut Volcano to the west.

Although winters are very harsh the lake never freezes over due to its high salinity. The temperatures in winter in the Van region are very harsh ranging between -3 down to -30C.

You can visit Akdamar Island, a restored Armenian Church by ferry from Edrimet south of Van. Look out for a Van Cat, a breed of cat native to this town and named after it. The Van Cat is noted for its white fur and having one blue and one green eye.

What to Eat

Local cuisine includes a variety of delicacies such as Kurut Asi, ciger kofte (liver patties), tandoori
fish and rice with herbs and fried plums. Van breakfasts are famous and consist of cheeses, tomatoes, cucumber, bread, kaymak (heavenly clotted cream) heavy porridge, butter jams olives and olives, and of course famous Van Honey.



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