Van is often called the pearl of the east. The city lies to the east of Lake Van with an altitude almost 1700ms. The city citadel rests on a rocky hill around which the ancient fortress was built. This was the home city of the ancient Urartu Kingdom, at the time the old city Van was called Tushpa, spelt Tuspa in Turkish..
Van tour is also exciting for its scenic beauty, lake van and Mt Suphan of which Van is established on its outskirts. The region has other things to draw pride and fame. These are the ancient citadel, antique ruins and the burials of kings noted for cuneiform inscriptions dating to Urartian times 1300 -700BC. Off the places, Akhtamar church is the most important, next in line settlements of Cavustepe 25 km and Hosap Kalesi (Hoshap Kalesi), 33 km due east.
Plus the cats, Van cat, pure white cats with eyes of different color, indigenous to city of Van. Van Tushpa tour.
For overnight trip, Van has reasonably comfortable hotels and restaurants with rich variety of kebabs and breakfast buffets. If you have a choice take your tour in Spring when all the wild flowers show up.
The lake is volcanic and of a particular nature, its waters have very high soda content, not suitable for fresh water life except a particular variety of fish.
The easiest way to get to Van is to take a flight either from Istanbul or Ankara. Turkish Airlines have daily flights from Istanbul and Ankara. The land route excursion from Istanbul or even Ankara may not be to your comfort due to the long distance involved.
Van was the ancient capital 'Tuspa' of Urartian Kingdom, a powerful kingdom ruled between the 13th and 8th centuries BC. In succeeding years Van was under the control of Armenians, Persians, Byzantines, Arabs, Seljuk Turks, and Ottomans. What we see today is the modern city developed after the end of the First World War (1914-1918). The old Ottoman town was burned by the invading Russian forces before their retreat following Bolshevik revolution.
Urartu was first mentioned in Assyrian annals ca. 1260B.C. The area was known as the kingdom of Urartu populated by peoples of Indogermanic stock, in Assyrian sources mostly called NAIRI. Assyrian records report a major Assyrian raid of the Nairi lands under the rule of Tiglath-Pileser III. (1126-1090). Urartu Kingdom was unified/established by King Sarder ca. 830B.C., including the Nairi lands.
From this time onward we have reliable information in CUNEIFORM script, both from Assyrian and Urartian sources. The kingdom capital was TUSHPA, located on the shores of Lake Urmia (= Lake Van). The Kingdom was at the zenith of it's strength in the 8th century, when it extended into Northern Syria and into modern Armenia.
The kingdom was weakened by an Assyrian invasions in 735 and 714 BC. It was then conquered by the MEDES in 585 B.C.
Important Urartian archaeological sites include Tushpa(Van), MUSASIR and EREBUNI.
Professor Seton Lloyd, an Urartu researcher, has this to say about the ancient civilization:
"Urartu" is now being presented to us as a nation--and in its time a very great nation-whose history and even identity seem to have been completely expunged from the records of human memory for two-and-a-half thousand years. Yet today, everything about it-its racial characteristics, political and economic history and its art-constitute it one of the most intriguing problems in Near Eastern Archaeology (24)."