highest mount in Anatolia is Mount Ararat,
called Ağrı Dağı in Turkish, a volcano
that culminates at 5,165 m/ 16,945 ft and
whose summit is always capped with snow.
The last eruption dates back to June 20,
1840. Many expeditions took place, some
of which aiming to find the remains of Noahs
Ark that is thought to have landed there
after the Deluge.
Located at the foothills of Mount Ararat
that faces it, Doğubayazıt is the last Turkish
stop on the road to Iran. The Seljuk fortress
which is built on the ruins of an Urartian
fortress, overlooks the town and below stands
the charming Işhak Paşa Palace from where
the panorama is gorgious. İşhak Pasha, of Kurdish
origin, built a small palace and mosque towards
the end of the 17th century. Here Persian, Armenian,
Georgian, Seljuk and Ottoman styles have been
mixed in an harmonious way.
The road to Lake Van that on a section runs
along the Iran border, cuts right accross barren landscapes
of volcanic stones (lava).
The Muradiye Waterfalls located 80 kms/ 50
miles before Van, are a nice place to rest
and have something to eat.
The city of Van is situated at an altitude
of 1,700 m/ 5,580 ft on the eastern bank of Lake
Van. The largest lake in Turkey is an inner
sea that covers 3,713 km2 / 1,433 sq miles with
a depth reaching 100 m / 328 ft. Because of the
high salinity of the water, there is almost no life
in the lake, fishes concentrating at the mouth of
In the region, there is a typical rare and ancient breed of cat called Turkish Van Cat (Van kedisi). All over the world the Van cat is recognized as an auburn white cat because of the auburn patterns on the top of the head and a faintly ringed auburn tail. But in Turkey they breed only what is called the real Turkish Van cat with a white coat. It can have both blue, both amber or one blue and the other amber eyes. This strong cat is beautiful, friendly, intelligent, faithful and lively. A rather surprising fact is that the Van Cat likes to swim in the lake. The shape of its head and semi-longhaired coat distinguishes it from the Turkish Angora Cat (Ankara Kedisi).
Van is linked
to Ankara and İstanbul by daily flights.
Van, the ancient Tushpa and capital of the Urartu
Kingdom founded in the 9C BC by Sarduri
I, repelled the attacks of the Assyrians
but was conquered in the 6C BC by the Medeans
and later the Persians.
In the 1C BC, the region became the center of
the Armenian Kingdom founded by Tigran
the Great, but it also was the stakes in the long-lasting
conflict between the Romans
and the Parthians, then between the Byzantines
and the Sassanids. Following the Arab invasion
in 643, the Armenians finally accepted the sovereignty
of Bagdad which favored the Bagratids to
the detriment of the Rechtuni. The Ardzruni,
who replaced the latter, made Van one of the main
cities of Vaspurakan. However it fell into the
Seljuks hands after
their victory over the Byzantines (Manzikert 1071),
and into Tamerlanes hands in 1387. It joined
the Ottoman Empire
in 1534. The city having been devastated during
the combats between the Turks and the Russians,
a new modern city has been built very near. Places of interest
in the city:
The Citadel was
linked to the lower town by 1,000 rock-cut
steps. The foundations are Urartian but
the walls are a succession of Armenian,
Seljuk, Byzantine and Ottoman constructions.
Inscriptions in cuneiforn scripts were engraved
by Urartian kings near a cave where funerary
chambers can be seen. Other inscriptions
in Babylonian, Persian and Medean pay homage
to Persian King Xerxes. From the citadel
there is a panoramic view over the lake
and the ancient city.
Sunset over Lake Van from the Citadel should
not be missed.
Hüsrev Paşa Camiiis
located on the lake side
all located in the old town
The Archaeological and Ethnographical
a complement to the visit of the Urartian sites.
Located 5 km / 3 miles in the east of Van,
Ancient Rusahinili, founded by Rusa II, was the
second capital of the Urartian
Kingdom. The remains of the Temple of the great
Urartian God Haldi, walls and a cistern can be seen.
pleasant excursion to Akhtamar island should
not be missed. From Gevaş ,
where there is a Seljuk
graveyard filled with beautiful headstones,
the visitor can reach the island after a 20
minutes boat ride. Besides the visit of the
church, Akhtamar island offers good opportunities
for picknicking, swimming in the soda
waters and discover the surrounding
landscapes (afternoon should be prefered for
In the 7C, this small island was used as a base
by the Rechtuni who wanted
to protect themselves from the Byzantines and
the Arabs. Later in the 10C, Gagik Ardzruni,
king of Vaspuran , took refuge
many times here and built a palace and the Holy
Cross Church . The latter,
which is well preserved, has facades ornemented
with beautiful reliefs depicting scenes from
the Bible, Armenian king Gagik, animals and
monastery was used as the residence of the patriarches
of the Armenian Church between 924 and 954.
Like the palace it does not exist any more.
The citadel of Çavuştepe, located 24 km / 15
miles in the south-east of Van, is the
ancient Sardurihinili founded by Urartian king
Sarduri II who reigned between 764 and 735 BC.
The main gate stands at the point of junction
between the lower and the upper citadel. In
the upper parts are a large platform and a temple
dedicated to the great Urartian god Haldi. In
the lower parts, remains of 4 to 5 m / 13 to
16.5 ft high walls, a palace, warehouses, workshops,
stalls, inscriptions in cuneiform scripts can
The impressive fortress overlooks the village,
the Hoşap river and astonishingly shaped landscapes.
Its foundations are set on a rock that was already
used by the Urartians. The fortress was built
in 1643 by Sar Süleyman, a Mahmudi lord, himself
a subject of the Ottoman Empire. The entrance
is through a beautifully sculpted portal.