THE CITY & LAKE VAN
The province of Van, one of the beautiful cities of the Republic of Turkey, 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 the harbor, you may find pleasant places to rest. For swimming and camping, you may head for Edremit, 14 km 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. Its lake is the largest one 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 centers. 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 km east, has a magnificent old fortress fronted by huge walls. At Cavustepe, there is an Urartian site, which is 25 km from the city on the Hakkari road. 88 km north of the city, are the Muradiye Waterfalls, a perfect place to rest while listening to natures harmony at one of the restaurants or tea gardens around the falls.
It 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.