Lake Van is a natural marvel in Turkey, as it is surrounded by towering mountains and small streams that descend from the peaks. Offering a wealth of archaeological sites, Lake Van is one of the world’s largest lakes without an outlet, a volcanic eruption blocking it in ancient times.
Things to do in Lake Van
Akdamar Island is one of the largest islands in Lake Van, accessible only by boat. Atop the sandstone cliff is a natural freshwater spring, which enabled the island to be inhabited. Here you will find the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, built in the 10th century by Armenian Christians. Bas-relief scenes are carved into the exterior of the building, including a particularly detailed depiction of David and Goliath. Today it is a secular museum rather than a church, though occasional pilgrims still visit.
A massive stone fortification, Van Fortress is even older, first built in the 9th century BC. Its ruins are on a steep-sided hill, and one wall features an inscription by the Persian Emperor Xerxes I.
There are twice-weekly buses to Lake Van from Ankara, plus Van Ferit Melen Airport, which has regular flights to major Turkish cities. Tatvan on the lake shore is accessible by train.