Van is at the far east of the Anatolia region in Turkey. Unknown to tourists, Van Turkey offers much hidden beauty. Here are a few things to do in Van Turkey;
- Van Fortress
- Top Sunset Location
- Kaya Celebi Mosque and Red Mosque Minaret
- Lake Van
- Van Museum
- Van Cat
- Hazreti Omer Mosque
- Streets of Central Van
Hotels in Van are excellent value. I recommend finding a place in the center of Van close to the shops and restaurants. Good luck finding a deal and why not take advantage of the low prices and indulge in a little luxury?
Simply put, Van Fortress is amazing and a reason in itself to visit the region. It’s a fortification chiseled out of rock which is more than 9000 years old. Have you heard of the ancient Kingdom of Urartu? Van Fortress was the centerpiece to this kingdom. As a matter of fact, there’s an original Achaemenid inscription at the site written in Old Persian, Babylonian and Elamite. Not only should you visit the fortress to learn about its rich history but also to witness stunning views over Lake Van, ancient Urartu and also the modern city.
Sunset Location in Van Turkey
I recommend you visit Van Fortress in the late afternoon. As a result, once you’ve finished exploring the fortress with a bit of luck you can witness a stunning sunset over Lake Van. Not only this but the weather is also cooler at this time of day.
Kaya Celebi Mosque
Kaya Celebi Mosque is adjacent to Van Fortress. You can visit this 16th century mosque or view it from the fortress. What’s stunning is the backdrop as it’s surrounded by nature and mountains. However, if you do walk to the mosque you get an idea of the enormity of the fortress from it.
Red Mosque Minaret
Once upon a time the ancient city of Urartu was adjacent to the fortress. Later it would become known as Van. It was seriously damaged and abandoned after World War I therefore today you may receive an eerie feeling as you walk through it. It’s almost like walking through Chernobyl in the way it’s abandoned. No people, just barren lands and destroyed monuments which makes it a photographers dream. As a matter of fact, this area could be a better sunset location than from on top of the fortress.
Lake Van is the largest lake in the Anatolia region. If you arrived in Van by bus from Diyarbakir you’ll have a good idea of its enormity. A popular activity is to visit Akdamar Island on the lake which features a 10th century Armenian church. Mount Cadir, a huge dormant volcano is clearly visible from the island.
To learn more about the ancient Kingdom of Urartu, visit Van Museum. It’s conveniently located at the entrance to the fortress. Original Urartian artifacts are on display from gold jewelry to armored clothing. I recommend visiting the museum when it’s hot to escape the heat.
Have you seen a white cat with a blue eye and a green eye before? This is not a rare cat in Van! It is in fact the Van cat. You’ve seen my picture so I’m sure you want to know where you can find these cats. Look for a neon Van Cat sign around here. Simply buy cat food onsite for around 2 Euros and you can sit with the cats for as long as you want. You’re welcome to either pet them, photograph them or both.
Hazreti Omer Mosque
As you can imagine, there are several mosques spread out through the center of Van. If you only visit one I recommend the Hazreti Omer Mosque. Not only is it a pretty yellow color but it’s also surrounded by a picturesque park. Tourists are welcome inside to explore the beautiful interior, just avoid prayer times.
Hazreti Omer Mosque – Interior
Many visitors in Istanbul queue for hours and visit the mosques alongside hundreds of other tourists. Why not visit the Hazreti Omer Mosque in Van Turkey and enjoy a stunning mosque interior by yourself. Finally, for those who love Instagram photography – isn’t this location perfect?
Streets of Van Turkey
I recommend at the start that you choose a hotel in the center of Van. The center is busy and full of shops, restaurants and bazaars. For this reason, you’ll receive a true Turkish experience. In addition, with the lack of tourists in this area, foreigners are made especially welcome.
As you explore Van, look up for the second floor restaurants. Even if you just pop in for a coffee I guarantee it will be a special experience. As with the Van Turkey hotels, restaurants are also excellent value. As a matter of fact, this extremely well presented coffee cost much less than a Starbucks back home.
Van Ataturk Stadium
Is there are football match on when you’re in town? Although Van Spor are not a Turkish Super League team like Galatasaray or Fenerbahce, it will still be a unique experience. Check the Van Spor fixtures when you’re there.
How to Travel from Van to Dogubeyazit
There are not many direct buses between Van and Dogubeyazit therefore check the schedule in advance. I took a bus in the morning from Van bus station. The journey time is around 3 hours and I recommend you sit on the left for views of Lake Van. You cannot buy the ticket in advance but pay the driver before boarding.