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.