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VAN GÖLÜ (LAKE VAN)

Turkey's largest lake

200 DSC01662The Van Monster with kümbet from Ahlat

A brief glance at a map of Eastern Turkey immediately reveals that its most conspicuous feature is Van Gölü (Lake Van), a vast expanse of water that covers 3,750 square km of land strung out between Tatvan to the west and Van to the east.

This lake was formed some 6,000 years ago when the volcano that is Turkey’s lesser known Nemrut Dağı (Mt Nemrut) erupted and hurled the entire top of the mountain into the lake, thereby cutting off the water’s natural escape route into a river near Muş.

The waters of Lake Van are known for being highly alkaline which means that it’s actually possible to wash clothes in them without using soap. Swimmers also find the water extremely buoyant, although pollution around the main population centres means that it’s not really that wise to risk bathing.

Not surprisingly, Lake Van is home to all sorts of unusual beasties, some of them real, others entirely fanciful.

 Perhaps its most prized resident is the inci kefalı (pearl mullet), a fish so revered that it’s spawned commemorative statues not just in Van itself but also in the small town of Erciş.

Then there is the Van Canavarı, the Lake Van Monster, a creature uncannily like Scotland’s Loch Ness Monster and just as elusive - - the closest you’ll come to it is the statue in Van’s Feqiye Teyran Park where a diplodocus-like creature can be seen wrapping its long neck around other local features.

300 DSC01566Van Lake from the Rock of Van

Finally, there’s the Van kedisi (Van cat) which is famous not just for having one yellow and one blue eye but also for having a particularly unfeline love of water - - although you’ll be hard-pressed enough to find a Van cat in town let alone one that’s out there demonstrating its supposed love of swimming.

To explore all the sights around Lake Van requires several days. The two most obvious bases for doing so are Van itself and smaller and altogether scruffier Tatvan

Transport info

The busiest route for public transport round the lake runs south between Tatvan and Van, but there is plenty of local transport between the different populations centres.

The nicest way to explore the lake would surely be by ferry, and theoretically there is a ferry that links Tatvan to Van. However, it operates to a timetable seemingly known only to its operators.

Plans for a high-speed replacement were put on hold following the Van and Erciş earthquakes of 2010.

Places to visit around Lake Van

Adilcevaz

Ahlat

Akdamar

Edremit

Erciş

Gevaş

Tatvan

Van

Read more about the northern shore: http://www.todayszaman.com/news-227479-exploring-lake-van-the-northern-shore.html 

Read more about the southern shore: http://www.todayszaman.com/news-227148-exploring-lake-van-the-southern-shore.html

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