Turkey's vast, highly alkaline
inland sea called Lake Van (Van
Gölü) is surrounded
by history and stark beauty.
of Van is the goal of most
travelers because of its historic
sights, hotels, transportation
links, beautiful Van
cats and other attractions,
on the western shore, is the railhead
for trains westward
to Ankara and Istanbul.
Just north of Tatvan, Nemrut
meters/9629 feet) is an extinct volcano
holding a beautiful crater lake. (This
is not the Nemrut
Dağı with the colossal stone statues,
which is 500 km (311 miles) W near Malatya.)
Near Gevaş, 90 km (56 miles)
E of Tatvan and 44 km (27 miles) SW
of Van, you can hire a boat for the
3-km (2-mile), 20-minute voyage north
to the island of Akdamar to
see its 10th-century Armenian Church
of the Holy Cross with fine relief
Edremit, 15 km (9 miles) W
of Van, has beaches at which you may
dip a toe in the highly alkaline
lake—but not if the toe is
sunburned or has a cut on it, as the
alkaline water will sting mercilessly.
If you have dirty laundry, you
can wash it in the lake and you won't
need any soap.
At Ahlat on the NW shore are
Turkish tombs and cemeteries. What
is now called Malazgirt, 87
km (54 miles) NW of the city of Van,
was once Manzikert. On August
26, 1071, Seljuk
Turkish Sultan Alp Arslan defeated Byzantine Emperor
Romanus IV Diogenes on the field of
battle here, opening all of Anatolia
to conquest by the Seljuks and, later,
Van is also the base for visits to
the mountain towns of Hakkâri and Yüksekova.
Bitlis, a provincial capital
17 km (11 miles) SW of Tatvan, is set
dramatically in a valley, and boasts
Turkish mosques and caravanserais,
and a castle.
Unless you like long bus or car trips,
or even longer train trips,
the best way to get to Van is by plane.
See the City
of Van and Tatvan pages
for distances and travel times.