PARIS OF THE ORIENT: VAN

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Known as the Paris of Eastern Anatolia, Van is an important province of our nation with its odd-eyed cats, big lake and citadels that should definitely be visited. Van is a nominee for becoming a touristic region of Turkey while harboring the largest lake of the country.

A pleasant city of Eastern Anatolia, Van is regarded as the Paris of the Orient. Speaking of its famous historical artifacts, The Fortress of Van is the first attraction that comes to mind. Attracting the viewers with its spectacular patterns, this hilltop castle evokes extraordinary feelings. It is very well possible to say that the security of fortress is at its height.

 

Once you reach the top, the viewers observe Lake Van. While Lake Van presents beautiful scenery, the view of Akhtamar Island amazes the visitors. After departing from the Fortress of Van, the famous statue of a Van cat can be seen. The statue should be viewed closely in order to observe the snow white image of the Van Cat and its odd-eyes.

As moving on, we shall pass through Edremit which is the most beautiful district of Van in order to reach the Akhtamar Island. The beauty of Edremit is inexpressible and one should definitely experience it in order to understand. A “toll fee” should be paid as a tradition once stepped on the Akhtamar Island. Traditional Van Breakfast would be a great idea after finishing your tour on the island. Speaking of Van, the Van cat and Lake Van comes to mind right away but one should not forget about Van Breakfast as well.

Van Breakfast is known for its traditional otlu peynir (special cheese with leafy greens). It is definitely a must-try. Not only healthy, but it is also very tasty.

Moreover, the Muradiye Waterfalls and the Hoşap Castle are must-see attractions of Van. Besides, the fairy chimneys akdamar 2located in Başkale district interest visitors as they are likened to Cappadocia; for this reason it is regarded as ‘Vanadoccia’.

Fairy chimneys located in Yavuzlar Village of the same district fascinate its visitors with its natural beauty. While the village roads are being paved with asphalt in order for visitors to travel conveniently, the local people are looking forward to hosting tourists.

LAKE VAN

Yes, we previously noted that it is Lake Van what comes to mind when we speak of Van… However, the local people of Van regard it as a great sea due to its vastness and magnificence. Lake Van is world’s greatest soda lake and Turkey’s largest lake…

With its glittering view amongst the snow-capped mountains, Lake Van is comprised of giant water mass arising out of the volcanic eruptions of Nemrut occurred 60 thousand years ago. Lake Van also extends beyond the Muş Plain.

The lava flows from Nemrut Volcano blocked the Muş Plain as well as the lake’s outlet, thus Lake Van was formed over time.

FORTRESS OF VAN

The Fortress of Van is one of the must-see venues. It is set upon a hill and access is made by climbing the stairs. Watching the sunset as well as the panorama of the city of Van at the height of the citadel is also a priceless experience. Let us note that this very fortress has once served as the capital of ancient Urartu.

VAN CAT HOUSE

Famous for their white fur and colored eyes, Van cats are under van kedisiprotection as they face extinction. For this reason, it is possible to see real purebred Van cats only in the Van Cat House of the Yüzüncü Yıl University.

VAN MUSEUM AND CITY CENTER

The Van Museum should also be visited. Many precious pieces from the Urartian Kingdom are exhibited here. The tour can be followed by a city center sightseeing in the bazaar where restaurants, breakfast halls and hotels can be found.

AKHTAMAR ISLAND AND CHURCH

Named after the “Ah Tamara Legend”, the island is located 10 km. away from the Gevaş province. From the city, minibuses or taxis are available to reach the pier where ferries take to the island.

WHAT TO EAT IN VAN

Van Breakfast Halls: Trying traditional Van breakfast will be an important aspect of your experience in Van. Breakfast service begins at 4 in the morning and ends by noon. Cacik (yoghurt with cucumber and spices), murtuğa (bread coated in egg and flour), kavut (roasted and ground wheat), Van otlu peyniri (cheese with leafy greens), honey, kaymak, (milk cream) and many other options accompany the great Van breakfast.

Van İnci Kefali (pearl mullet): The pearl mullet is one of the famous foods of the region as it is the only single fish type that grows in Lake Van. The fishing period is wintertime. Pearl mullets present a wonderful dance show especially during the migration period where they swim towards the opposite direction of the water flow.

VAN HOSTED MANY CIVILIZATIONS

Van holds many traces of ancient civilizations up to this date. The city attracts the visitors with its pre-historic images carved on rocks and in caves. The ever-growing cultural existence of various civilizations as of the Neolithic Age can be observed through Tilkitepe and Dilkaya Mounds as well as with the findings of many archeological excavations. It is understood that it was Urartians that first developed Van as a grandiose civilization. Many fortresses, temples, rock graves, waterlines as well as other ceramic and metallic artifacts from the Urartians serve as an evidence of this fact.

With the fall of the Urartians in 6th century BC, Van had lapsed into silence for 1500 years. Since that time, no significant remnants have reached to this date except for a Persian inscription engraved on the cliffs located at the southern part of the Van Citadel.

The resuscitation of Van emerged in 8th century AD with the Kingdom of Vaspurakan. The Akhtamar Church has witnessed the rule of this kingdom.

Religious structures of Christian architecture started to expand as of this period and assumed an important role in the cultural heritage of the region. As of early 11th century, the region experienced Turkish invasions and went under Seljuk rule with the Battle of Manzikert. With the Seljuk rule in the region, Turkic-Islamic works and artifacts started to appear followed by the reign of other Turkish powers. After the Seljuk rule, Ilkhanates, Black Sheep Turkomans, White Sheep Turkomans, Safavid dynasty and the Ottoman Empire controlled Van and its regions.