Ahlat, a historical city nearby Van lake in Bitlis. It has the sight of glorious tombstones dating back to the Seljuk period. Thanks to its geographical location, Ahlat has been a bridge between Eastern and Western cultures throughout history. Ahlat played a very important role during the grand legendary journey of Turks from Central Asia to Anatolia. Top tourist attractions in Ahlat are these: Usta Sagirt Mausoleum, Selcuk Open-Air Cemetery with the stele like headstones of red volcanic tuff intricated web patterns and the bands of earlier Kufic letters. These remains are the best examples in their artistic category. People should see the Ahlat Museum as well.
A lunar landscape of barren shores and eerie mountains rings Turkey’s largest lake, 119km at its widest. The natural base is sizeable, nondescript Van, rebuilt for exploring the area after the old town had been destroyed by occupying Russians in 1918. On a limestone outcrop between Van and the lake known as the Castle of Van stand the remains of Tushpa, the former capital of the Urartian kingdom which flourished between the 9th and 7th centuries BC. Here you can see eroded battlements, rock tombs and cuneiform inscriptions. Back in the nearby good Van Museum which displays many rare Urartian finds.
The lake’s top sight is Ahtamar Island, a tiny island approached from just west of Gevas. The attraction here is its Armenian Church of the Holy Cross which was built in the 10th century and whose glory rests in the richly sculpted reliefs of biblical scenes on its exterior walls.
The settings have a linear plan, perched upon a ridge overlooking the Guzelsu Plain called Bol Mountain. It is composed of fortification walls as well as the remains of an Urartian royal palace, built between 764 and 735 BC during the reign of King Sardinian II at the climax of power of the Urartian Empire. There are upper and lower sections of the fortress. In the citadel, there are the Temple of Haldi or Irmushini, citadel walls, king’s tower, workshops from 7th century BC, storehouses, cisterns, kitchen, palace with a throne room, a royal toilet, harem and colonnaded halls were built. A moat surrounded sections of the fortress for earlier security reasons.
On a hillside above modern little Dogubeyazit, the area’s main base, stands the fortress palace of Ishak Pasha Palace. Built by the local governor in the late 18th century, it fulfills the romantic notion of a classic oriental pleasure dome – a heady mix of grand portals, towers, turrets, kiosks, domes, and the harem rooms in a spectacularly desolate setting.
Very near to here, there are the mountains of Ararat. The visitors can easily view them from the Dogubeyazit area. Even in the peaceful times, climbing the Mount Ararat is strictly for the experts and requires permits and guides. Boat hunters number prominently among the climbers, the Book of Genesis stating that Noah’s Ark came to rest ‘upon the mountains of Ararat’. Yet no corroborated traces of the Ark Beverly ever been found here and it’s very debatable issue at the present times.
Ani is located by the Arpacay creek between Turkish and Armenian border. Arpacay river also gives the life a lot to the Eastern Anatolian landscapes. Ancient Ani, once upon times, a fabulous metropolis, known as ‘the city of a thousand and one churches’. The city was the capital city of Bagratid Armenian Kingdom from the 10th century AD. Ani is situated on trade routes and grew to become a walled city of more than 100,000 residents by the 11th century. In the centuries that followed, Ani and the surrounding region were ruled in turn by the Byzantine emperors, Ottoman Turks, Georgians, and Russians. The Russians repeatedly were attacking and chasing out the area’s residents. By the 1300 AD, Ani was in depression some reason. It was totally abandoned by the 1700. Today most of the churches are still standing to a sufficient height, the streets, baths, market place, an old Mosque, the Turks early palace, and the great fortification walls are very impressive.
A fine example of former Byzantine glory is the best seen at the church of Haghia Sophia (AyaSofya) in the west side of the center. Commissioned by Manuel I (1238-63), this monastery church used all that 13th-century money could buy for its construction. When it was converted to a mosque in 1461, the walls were whitewashed, preserving a set of stunning frescoes covering every surface of the interior. The best are in the narthex (entrance hall), depicting scenes from the life of Jesus Christ. Look too at the south porch, where, above a weathered frieze., the Comnenus eagle spreads its wings on the arch’s keystone.
The entire Black Sea coast’s compulsory sight, 46km south of Trabzon, was among the most revered of pilgrim monasteries in the Orthodox world. According to tradition, two Athenian monks founded Sumela in 386 around a cave which housed a icon of the Virgin Mary painted by St Luke. Later, the Comneni patronized the monastery, some being coronated here. The present buildings were erected last century to accommodate all the pilgrims. This monastery has the spectacular setting. Within a national park, Sumela, usually shrouded in mist, clings to the sheer rock face of towering mountain, 300m above a forested valley floor.
It was once a mighty volcano. From the rim of the crater, you can see down to the two lakes below. The small one is swimmable, fed by hot springs, and the larger one is much colder. The inside of the crater has its own ecosystem. There stands of short trees, scrubby bushes, birds, turtles and cool breezes.