Where to Visit in Van

Van is a mostly Kurdish-populated and historically Armenian-populated city in eastern Turkey’s Van Province. The city lies on the eastern shore of Lake Van. The city has a long history as a major urban area. It has been a large city since the first millennium BCE, initially as Tushpa, the capital of the kingdom of Urartu from the 9th century BCE to the 6th century BCE, and later as the center of the Armenian kingdom of Vaspurakan. Turkic presence in the city and in the rest of Anatolia started as a result of Seljuk victory at the Battle of Malazgirt (1071) against the Byzantine Empire. The city is often referred to in the context of Western Armenia and Northern Iraq.

At the end of 2022 the official population figure for the city was 525,016, but former Mayor Burhan Yengun is quoted as saying it may be as high as 600,000. The former the city Central (Merkez) District stretched over 1,938.14 km2, but has subsequently been split into two new districts (İpekyolu and Tuşba). Today, the city has a Kurdish majority and Turkish minority.

In culinary terms, as some cities in Turkey became renowned for their kebab culture or other types of traditional local dishes, the city has distinguished itself with its breakfast culture.

The modern city is located on the plain extending from the Lake Van, at a distance of 5 kilometres (3 miles) from the lake shore. Reports have appeared over the years of a certain Lake Van Monster said to live in the lake. Lake Erçek is the second largest lake in the region and lies just east of Lake Van.

The city has often been called “The Pearl of the East” because of the beauty of its surrounding landscape. An old Armenian proverb in the same sense is “Van in this world, paradise in the next”. This phrase has been slightly modified in Turkish as Dünyada Van, ahirette iman or “the city for this world, faith for the next”.

The city is home to Van Yüzüncü Yıl Üniversitesi (Van 100th Year University) and recently came to the headlines for two highly publicized investigations initiated by the Prosecutor of the city, one of which was focused on accusations against the university’s rector, Prof. Hasan Ceylan, who was kept in custody for a time. He was finally acquitted but lost his rectorate. He is a grandson of Agop Vartovyan, an Ottoman Armenian who is accepted as the founder of modern Turkish theatre. Prof. Hasan Ceylan is also the department chairman of Environmental Engineering at Van Yüzüncü Yıl University.

In 1941, the city suffered a destructive 5.9 Mw earthquake. A more severe 7.2 Mw earthquake occurred on 23 October 2011.On the 9 November 2011, another earthquake caused several buildings to collapse.
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Akdamar Holy Cross Church

Akdamar Holy Cross Church or The Church of the Holy Cross is located on Akdamar Island in Lake Van. The church is within the borders of Gevaş District, which is part of the province of Van. Lake Van has 4 islands that offer breathtaking views for visitors, but Akhtamar, also known as Aghtamar or Ahtamar, […]

Muradiye Waterfall

Muradiye Waterfall is signed on the west side of the main Dogubeyazit road, some 20 km north of the junction with the road from Tatvan and past the village of Muradiye. The road to Muradiye offers some really good views of Lake Van and mount Suphan as well as patches of lush pasture, thanks to […]

Van Lake

Van Lake, In the times of ancient Greece it was known as Thospitis Lacus, or Arsissa Lacus, which is derived from the Urartian city of Van, or ancient Chauon. Lake Van (Van Gö lü in Turkish) is the largest lake in Turkey and the second largest in the Middle East. It’s also the biggest sodium water lake in the world. The lake […]

Seven Churches – Varagavank Monastery

Seven Churches Monastery or Varagavank Monastery in Armenian is located on the slopes of Mount Erek, about 9 km south-east of Van city center. Seven Churches – Varagavank Monastery was founded in the early 11th century by Senekerim-Hovhannes Artsruni, the Armenian King of Vaspurakan on a preexisting religious site. Serving as the necropolis of the […]

Van Castle

Van Castle and the Old City of Van are spread over an area of approximately 97 hectares. Tuspa/Van Castle, built on a rock with a length of 1345 m, a width of 200 m and a height of 100 m, on the eastern shore of Lake Van, houses the structures of the capital of the […]

Van Museum

Van Museum, The city of Van, one of the oldest cities in the world, is located in the Eastern Anatolia Region of our country, in the Van Lake basin. Van, whose history dates back to the Paleolithic Period, has been an important settlement center throughout history due to its location on the Silk Road. It […]

Cavustepe Castle

Cavustepe Castle is located in the Çavuştepe neighborhood on the Van-Hakkari-Iran highway in the Gürpınar District, 25 km southeast of Van. It was built in the middle of the 8th century BC by the Urartian King Sarduri II. The first excavations in Çavuştepe Castle were carried out under the presidency of Prof. Dr. Afif ERZEN […]

Hosap Castle

Hosap Castle is an imposing fortification and the main tourist attraction of Güzelsu village near Van in Eastern Turkey. Perching dramatically over the road connecting Van and Hakkari, the castle has been recently renovated and can now be visited if you can attract the attention of the custodian who can open its gates. The castle’s […]

Akdamar Island

Akdamar Island, also known as Aghtamar or Akhtamar is the second largest of the four islands in Lake Van, in eastern Turkey. About 0.7 km² in size, it is situated approximately 3 km from the shoreline. At the western end of the island, a hard, grey, limestone cliff rises 80 m above the lake’s level (1,912 m above sea level). The […]