Van, the city of swimming cats and Armenian ruins!

Van, the city of swimming cats and Armenian ruins!

2 minutes to read

Standing near the eastern shore of Lake Van (Van Gölü), the city of Van is waiting for you to discover its fantastic nature and adorable cats! Its soda/salt lake -also known locally as Van Denizi (“the sea of Van”) - is the largest lake in Turkey! The region is also an important historical center due to its Urartu and Armenian kingdom ruins. So, if you want to explore Van, here is your guide!

Lake Van and its ancient Armenian church, Akdamar

© istock/birdigol
© istock/birdigol

The Cathedral of the Holy Cross, which is also known as Akdamar Church, is an ancient Armenian church standing on the Akdamar Island, in Lake Van in eastern Turkey! This church is a medieval Armenian Apostolic cathedral, built as a palatine church for the kings of Vaspurakan. With its extraordinary beauty surrounded by astonishing nature, this ancient church is a must-visit place in Van! Standing still since 1921, the church has recently been opened to the public after an extensive restoration. The beautiful architecture of the church is based on a form that had been developed in Armenia several centuries earlier. 

The unique importance of the Cathedral Church comes from the ethereal bas-relief carving of biblical scenes on its external walls. The meanings of these reliefs are different from one person to another. Some people interpreted them as an Islamic and Turkic influence, syncretized with Armenian techniques.  If you want to have a cup of tea or coffee while gazing at this amazing church and the calming nature, you have to check out the Lake Van shore at İskele pier. If you are hungry, you can also taste the local fish, which lives in Lake Van. After that, you can take a walk in the big park near the lake and watch the sunset. 

Akdamar Church
Akdamar Church
Gevaş, Van, Türkiye
Van Havzası Açık Hava Müzesi
Van Havzası Açık Hava Müzesi
Van gölü, 65700, Turkey

World-famous cats of Van 

 © istock/fotosuper
© istock/fotosuper

The World famous Turkish Van is a majestic "silky" cat with unique eyes. This breed stands out with its white body and colored head. Like many cat breeds, no one really quite knows the Turkish Van’s true origins. However, it's thought to hail from modern-day Turkey’s eastern Lake Van region. According to the legend, ancestors of this gorgeous cats sailed aboard Noah’s Ark, and once the boat reached Mount Ararat, the cats hopped off and swam for dry land! And those cats became the progenitors for the Turkish Van breed. Realistically though, the Turkish Van breed is known to have been bred in the central and southwest Asia. Since then, it has lived in Turkey’s isolated Lake Van region for generations.

Turkish Vans are often called “the swimming cats” because they love water. You can see these gorgeous cats swimming in the Lake Van and even jump into showers and splash through puddles. They also love thunderstorms. The kittens are initially born with crystal blue eyes, which change to a deeper blue or amber as they grow older. There are also lots of Van cats with one amber eye and one blue eye or two blue eyes of different tones! So, don't forget to check out these cuties on the streets of Van!

If you want to visit Van, get inspired by itinari now!

Cover Picture © istock/asikkk

The author

Alara Benlier

Alara Benlier

My name is Alara Benlier, I am Turkish but currently living in Germany! I share my experiences in Germany, Turkey and the Netherlands!

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