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 Kingdom of Urartu, which entered the process of statehood in the 9th century BC, with the Eastern Anatolia Region being the center. Walls and foundation beds, building floors whose traces can be easily seen on the platforms created by carving and flattening the bedrock, open-air cult areas, rock tombs where the kings were buried, king annuals carved on the bedrock, inscribed stela and construction inscriptions take place in the castle which bears the traces of the Urartian’s domination of approximately 250 years in the region. In this respect, the castle bears all the traces of a large and developed state structure. The Van Castle Mound is on the north of the castle, which lies in the same direction as the castle while the Old City of Van is situated on the south of the castle. We can observe the traces of a settlement culture of approximately five thousand years in the Van Castle Mound as well as the urban texture of approximately 800 years in the Old City of Van. Sardur Bastion, located at the western end of the Van Castle, is considered to be the earliest construction of the castle. The founder of the Urartian Kingdom, Sarduri I (840-830 BC) announces the foundation of the capital Tuspa and the Urartian Kingdom in 6 repetitive inscriptions that he had written in Assyrian language and script on the Sardur Bastion. Yeni Saray and its surrounding are an area where we can watch the most striking examples of the structure and infrastructure system of Urartian structures in Van Castle. In this area, there are remains of a three-stage architecture that gradually rises on top of each other.
There are 8 rock tombs opened on the south-facing façade of Van Castle. These are considered to be the most magnificent monuments of Urartian architecture. 4 of them are rock tombs, which are defined as multi-roomed and dated to Urartu. The tombs called Argişti I, Inner Castle, Neft Kuyu, and East Chambers were defined as king tombs. It is generally accepted that the Urartian kings were buried in these tombs. The qualities of the rock tombs are perhaps the criteria that enable us to rank the Urartian among the most talented architects of the Near East. Established at the highest point of the capital Tuspa, the “Inner Castle” is surrounded by very high walls reaching approximately 10 meters. The entrance to this very sheltered section, which includes elements such as a palace complex and a temple, is from the west. The palace was named the Old Palace because the meticulously elaborated large limestone blocks were similar to the Sardur Bastion construction at the western end of the castle. Located on the northeast slope of the Van Castle, the 40×15 m sized rock terrace is popularly known as the “Analı Kız” or “Hazine Kapısı” due to the two niches it contains. Built during the fifth king of the Urartian Kingdom, Sarduri II Period (755-730 BC), this area is known to be a sacred place where religious ceremonies were performed in the Urartian Period. The majestic walls of the capital Tuspa Castle were built on terraces formed largely on the bedrock. The rock steps on which the ramparts rise, and which can be observed everywhere in the form of steps, are unique to Urartian architecture. The majority of the large blocks on the lower levels of the walls that have survived to the present day belong to the Urartian Period, and many stone and adobe additions were made on them from the post-Urartian Period to the Ottoman Period. In this area, there are material cultural remnants of the societies living in the region from the 3rd millennium BC to the beginning of the 20th century. Cultural layers of Early Transcaucasian societies, Urartians, Medes, Persians, Romans, Parthians, Sassanids, Arabs, Byzantines, Armenians, Seljuks, Ayyubids, İlhanlı, Karakoyunlu, Timurid, Sefavi and Ottoman Periods can be observed from the same area. In this respect, the development process of the people of Van and the city can be observed in the region’s approximately 5-thousand-year historical process, from the way of life to the way of production and architecture.