Van, the ancient Urartian capital of Tuspa, tempts visitors with its location on the eastern shore of the lake. This remote but important city is set in a verdant oasis at the foot of a rocky peak. An imposing 9th-century B.C. citadel overlooks the new and the old parts of town. Steps carved in the rock lead to the Urartian fortress. Halfway up the steps, inscriptions in cuneiform pay homage to Xerxes. Within the fortress are several Urartian royal rock tombs. In the old city, the Ulu Mosque, Husrev Pasa Mosque, Kaya Celebi Mosque and the Ikiz Kumbet reflect Seljuk and Ottoman architectural styles. Van's interesting Archaeological Museum is in the new city, inland from the uninhabited old district. Still very much part of a traditional lifestyle, the women of Van produce beautiful kilims woven in blue, red and white patterns. The exotic Van cat, a protected specie, has thick white fur and one blue and one green eye. At Van Iskelesi (Van Harbour), friendly tea gardens and restaurants invite you for a break. Edremit, a holiday resort center 14 km to the southwest, has good beaches, swimming and camping. In the same direction is Gevas, where you can visit a Seljuk cemetery with numerous decorated headstones, and the lovely Halime Hatun Mausoleum.

Lake Van, the largest lake in Turkey is at an altitude of 1,720 meters, and is ringed by beautiful mountains. Mt. Suphan (4,058 meters) is on the northwest side and the Ihtiyar Sahap Mountains is to the south. You can circle the lake, visiting several ancient Uranian sites as well as other places that represent the legacies of the various peoples who inhabited the area. Some of the islands in Lake Van have monasteries and churches built on them.

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