MOUNT ARARAT

The 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 Noah’s Ark that is thought to have landed there after the Deluge.

 




DOĞUBAYAZIT

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.

 




VAN

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 the rivers. 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 Tamerlane’s 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

Ulu Cami
,Kaya Çelebi Camii, İkiz Kümbetare all located in the old town

The Archaeological and Ethnographical Museum
is a complement to the visit of the Urartian sites.
 




TOPRAKKALE

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.
 




AKHTAMAR ISLAND

The 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 the light).
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 vine.

The 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.


 




ÇAVUŞTEPE

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 be seen.
 




HOŞAP


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.