Tourism in Van: The Capital of the Urartian Civilization

The beauty of Turkey is not limited to a specific place or season, as it expands over a wide geographical area and regions of colourful beauty the whole the year. Turkey is one of the richest countries with attractive tourist and aesthetic components.

Tourists flock to Turkey from all over the world, to enjoy the splendour of its charming and diverse areas; the sea and the plain boast to receive visitors in the summer, and the mountains are decorated for lovers of tourism in winter.

Some ski resorts in Turkey are a strong attraction for many tourists who love skiing, so some resorts and regions are famous more than others, the most important of which, for example, is Van, which we will talk about in the following lines.

General Information about Van

Some call Van the city of beauty in eastern Turkey, located on the eastern border of Turkey, and it is the sixth largest city in terms of area.

Van is an ancient city with a history dating back thousands of years BC and is one of the first inhabited cities since ancient times.

Situated on the Silk Road, Van was one of the places that attracted many civilizations throughout history that the kings of Urartu (900 to 700 BC) took it as their capital, one of the richest archaeological areas for adventure lovers to explore its diverse masterpieces.

How Far is Van from Istanbul?

Van is 1672 km away from Istanbul, located east of Anatolia, bordered to the north by Agri and Dogubayazit, to the south by Sirt and Hakkari, and to the east by Iran, with a population of more than half a million people.

The Most Important Tourist Attractions of Van

1. Van Castle

  • Van still retains an architectural style and historical manifestations that are present today; the 3,000-year-old city may be included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
  • Not to mention, it has a beautiful lake, waters useful for treating many diseases, and monuments of castles, mosques, churches, thermal waters, springs, and resorts.
  • Among notable historical monuments in Van is the majestic Van Castle, which was built on a high hill, located on the outskirts of the city, 5 km west of the city centre of Van, one of the most beautiful castles built by the kings of the Urartu.
  • Van went through many civilizations in which it left many castles, but the most famous of these castles, the castle that bears its name, was likened by the traveller Evliya Celebi to the 'Gallic camel' because of its height in the middle of a plain area.
  • The castle includes royal tombs, and an open place of worship, and to the west is the Sardur Tower, which occupies great importance compared to other monuments, for its unique architectural style, and the inscriptions engraved on it.
  • The tower dates back to the ancient civilization of 'Urartu', where the city was the capital of the Kingdom of Urartu, whose rule lasted in eastern Anatolia for about 250 years.
Van Castle

2. Van Lake

  • The inhabitants of Van call their lake the sea, because of its large size, the largest alkaline lake in the world and Turkey, with an area of about 12,000 square kilometres, and a depth of 150 meters, with several small rivers flowing towards it originating from neighbouring areas.
  • The lake was formed after the eruption of the volcanic Nimrud Mountain and is inhabited by a very rare species of fish, Inci Kafali, which begins to migrate in the first week of May in search of fresh water for reproduction because the eggs do not live in alkaline and salt waters.
  • They swim against the stream to reach the Deli River at its meeting point with Van Lake as if dancing, and on this occasion, a festival is held in the area in June.
  • Located 5 km east of Van, Van Lake is surrounded by volcanic mountains to the north and west.
  • Studies conducted in the waters of the lake proved that this water eliminates microbes, and is useful in the treatment of many diseases and the healing of wounds of people who swim in the waters of the lake in a short period and get rid of dandruff.
  • According to the result of the latest study by a group of scientists from Istanbul University, it has been proven that the water of Van Lake is useful in treating diseases such as asthma and chronic lung diseases.
  • Specialists believe that the fall of sunlight on the water of the lake at 45 degrees, the water at that time greatly benefits lung patients.
  • The ships are used to transport passengers to the islands, move between them, and move between Van and Tatvan.
  • Van Lake has a charming view, and is famous for its port, bay, coast, and semi-islands; its waters are salty and gaseous, which led the people to call it the 'sea'.
  • Akdamar Island, the largest island of Van, is one of the places visited frequently by tourists from Van Province.
Van Lake

3. Van Museum

  • Van Museum is the first museum in the world in terms of the number of artefacts it displays about the Urartu civilization!
  • It makes the National Museum of Van a major destination for tourists wishing to learn about the Urartu civilization and its ancient ruins.
  • The museum attracts visitors, displaying more than 45,000 rare artefacts, most of them from the Urartu civilization, which flourished in the region between the ninth and seventh centuries BC.
  • Van Museum was built in the north of Van Castle and opened in 2019, replacing the old museum building that was badly damaged during the earthquakes that hit the state on October 23 and November 9, 2011.
  • According to the director of the museum, when the Van Museum was first established, it was considered a regional museum, where traces of many civilizations that were in the region can be seen.
  • Van Museum consists of 23 halls for the display of archaeological assets, 9 of which are dedicated to antiquities from the Urartu civilization, while the rest of the halls display relics from civilizations that lived and prospered before and after Urartu in the region.
  • The museum contains more than 45,000 artefacts from different civilizations that dominated the region, mainly the Urartu civilization, which flourished in the eastern regions of Turkey and around Van Lake, such as Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk, and the Turkmen emirates of Karakoyunlu and Akkoyunlu in eastern Anatolia, in addition to relics from the Ottoman Empire.
  • According to the museum's curators, 40,000 of the more than 45,000 artefacts in the museum are expected to have been excavated from archaeological sites within the administrative boundaries of Van.
  • The museum was built under the framework of the “Centers of Attraction Support Program” under the supervision of the Turkish Ministry of Development, with an enclosed area of 12,000 square meters and a total area of 50,000 meters.
  • Van Museum is an important source of understanding culture, social life, religion, economics and the wars that have prevailed in different periods and civilizations.
Van Museum

4. Akdamar: Old Armenian Church

  • Akdamar is the most famous church in Van, located on the island of Akdamar in Van Lake.
  • Dating back to 921, the church was recently reopened after undergoing extensive restorations, and its walls are decorated with impressive distinctive paintings.

5. Carpanak Island in Van Lake

  • Carpanak is one of the largest islands on the surface of Van Lake and is an excellent spot for a beautiful day out in the heart of enchanting nature.
  • Carpanak Island is very beautiful in spring and has become a major tourist attraction for Van Lake.
  • Visitors can rent small fishing boats, which are located in the neighbourhood of Citoren near the lake, for an hour-and-40-minute journey into the lake to reach the island, which is a prime home for seagulls.
  • Carpanak Island attracts nature lovers, photographers and artists looking for artistic inspiration; visitors coming to the island are fascinated by its picturesque nature, as well as the architecture of the Carpanak Church, which attracts people to spend the whole day there taking photos and videos.
  • The island is still home to the Armenian monastery known as 'Ktuts or Ktouts', and although the monastery was once a huge place with a library, cabins and guesthouses, the church remains the only structure that still stands on the island of Carpanak.
Carpanak Island in Van Lake

Shopping in Van

The shopping experience in Turkey is generally described as one of the best experiences that a tourist can do. As for shopping in Van, you can enjoy it in UrartuHalı Market, 9 km from Van Airport, which consists of a large number of shops and stalls that offer authentic Turkish products, including the famous Turkish handmade carpets, as well as many souvenirs, and handicrafts that you can buy.

Best Times for Tourism in Van

Van is very beautiful at all times and in all seasons, there is more than one reason to visit it at all times to see its charming lake and get acquainted with its archaeological areas that reek of history.

It is recommended to visit it during May to see the almond flowers and enjoy the view of the migration of Kafali fish.

Van is famous for its beautiful nature, castles and historical churches, and its winter is characterized by low temperature and snowfall, where snow covers the city, its surroundings, churches and castles, turning into a charming white painting, extending long distances around its centre. Therefore, wintertime is suitable for tourism in Van.

Tourism in Van

Tours to Van by Safaraq Tourism

Archaeological excavations in the region proved that the history of human settlement in Van stretches back to 5000 BC, but the appearance of Van on the pages of history started in the ninth century BC, as Van was the capital of the kingdom 'Urartu', which was one of the most powerful kingdoms in eastern Anatolia.

Tourism in Van today depends on its famous lake, its historic church 'Akdamar ' listed on the UNESCO Heritage List, its well-known castles, as well as on its world-famous cats.

If you like to tour Van with Safaraq Tourism, you can contact us via our official website and numbers, inquire about our special offers, and then choose whatever you like.

Tours to Van by Safaraq Tourism

Edited by Safaraq Tourism

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