The city of Van, the pearl of Anatolia, is among the must-see places with its landmarks, fertile lands and life-giving streams. History witnessed many civilizations who settled and flourished there, having grasped the region’s importance. There are various landmarks in the region, scattered here and there. So you may consider staying in the region for a couple of days to fully appreciate its beauties. Here are the must-see places in and around the Lake Van region...
Akdamar Island and its Church
The second largest island of Lake Van, Akdamar Island is located in the district of Gevaş. You can get there via a ferry service from Gürpınar. The journey takes about half an hour. Entry to the island with a unique view and a church is chargeable with a fee. But those with the Museum Pass can enter for free. Akdamar Church was built by Architect Manuel at the behest of King Gagik. The construction of the church was completed between 915-921. The building is one of the most important works of the Middle Age. It stands out for the red andesite stones used in its construction, its facade decorations, and relief embossing.
The Devil’s Bridge, located on the Bendi Mahi Brook near the Muradiye Waterfall, was built in the 19th century to provide access to villages. The bridge, which is 3 meters wide and 17 meters high, has an interesting story. According to the legend, people in a wedding convoy fell from the bridge and died as the bridge was too narrow. Hence the name the Devil’s Bridge.
Ayanis Fortress, located 35 km northwest of Van, is located in the Ayanis Village. The fortress built by Urartians between 643 to 645 BC is located 250 meters above Lake Van. The excavation works in the area still continue. Among the findings are warehouse buildings, living spaces, temples, fortification walls, halls and pots. The fortress is very important in terms of shedding light on the final years of the Urartian Kingdom.
Seven Churches, located in the village of Yukarı Bakraçlı, on the slopes of Mount Erek is also called “Varak Surp Haç Monastery.” The name may be Seven Churches but actually there are a total of five churches in two groups. In addition to the church, there is also a library, a bell tower and a square hall attached to the western entrance. The oldest of the churches dates back to the 8th century.
Muradiye Waterfall, located in the Muradiye district of Van, is 20 meters high. The waterfall is known to have been named after Murad IV. The waterfall is located on the Muradiye Brook. At the same time, it is the largest stream flowing into Lake Van. Freezing in winter and running dry in summer, the waterfall roars back to life during spring. In the area, there are also many restaurants with a view of the waterfall.
Fairy Chimneys- Vanadocia
The locals call the fairy chimneys in Van “Vanadocia”, a fun spin on the name Cappadocia. Located in the Yavuzlar Village of the Başkale district, these structures were formed through the erosion of the rocks spurted by the volcanic Yiğit Mountain with rain water and wind. Here are 17,000 fairy chimneys, and tens of tunnels and caves.
Just 30 kilometers away from Lake Van, this lake is adorned with a unique habitat. 450 bird species live here in Lake Erçek. Hundreds of species of birds, such as marbled teals, grebes, flamingos live and breed here. Lake Erçek is one of the major lakes only after Lake Van. It is a popular spot for birdwatchers. You can go to the annual Flamingo Festival, where you will find the chance to see many bird species.
Van Cat House
One of the first things that spring to mind when one mentions Van is the Van cat. Pay a visit to the Van Cat Research Center of Yüzüncü Yıl University if you wish to see these beautiful cats! You can also visit the Van Cat House established to protect the endangered Van cats for a fee of 1.5 TL, and see our cute little furry friends!
If you are also planning to visit this special city, you are welcome to stay at the comfortable and elegant rooms of Elite World Van Hotel that promises a premium accommodation experience with its neo-classical architecture.
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The City of Van's Unkown and Ancient History From Urartu to Today