"Xerxes the Great called us!" Top 5 Page for this destination Van by Behi

Van Travel Guide: 134 reviews and 377 photos

Van (means "place" in Persian) (ancient Tushpa) located on the southeastern shores of Lake Van, the largest lake in Turkey & 200km west of Iranian border.

It has often been called "The Pearl of the East" because of the beauty of its surrounding landscape.

An old Armenian proverb in the same sense is "Van in this world, paradise in the next".

Van formerly was Armenian city & is mainly a Kurdish city nowadays.


Existing evidences in the Tilkitepe mound reveal settlement in the area since pre historic era.

Assyrian inscriptions of Shalmaneser I (1270 BC) first mention Uruartri as one of the states of Nairi what the Its ancient inhabitants called themselves.

Van was the capital of the Urartian kingdom Under the ancient name of Tushpa & a major Armenian center, in the 9th - 6th century BC.

Van Citadel was first constructed by Sardur I, the Urartian King 844-828 BC.

The Urartu grew weaker and dependent on Assyria & referring to the Assyrian king as his "father" by Sardur III (645-635 BC).

Urartu was invaded by Scythians and their allies the Medes during the 600's BC.

Xenophon states that Armenia, was not conquered until the reign of Median king Astyages (585 - 550 BC).

The region came under the control of the Persians in the mid 6th century BC.

In the Behistun inscription (Kermanshah, Iran), carved in the order of Darius the Great of Persia (521-486 BC), the country referred to as Urartu in Babylonian & Harminuia in Elamite & Armenia in Old Persian.

In 331 BC, Van was conquered by Alexander.

By the early 2nd century BC it was part of the Kingdom of Armenia. It became an important center during the reign of the Armenian king, Tigranes II, who founded the city of Tigranakert in the 1st century BC.

This region was ruled by Parthians and Romans before 4th century AD.

The Persian Sassanids finally gained control of the area in the 4th century AD.

The Byzantine Empire briefly held the region from 628 to 640 AD.

It was invaded by the Muslim Arabs, who consolidated their conquests as the province of Ermeniye in the 7th century

Fourtunatly Arabs don't care to this part of Iranian emipre & allowed local Armenian rulers to re-emerge, with the Artsruni dynasty.

The Kingdom of Ani declared their independence in 908, founding the kingdom of Vaspurakan (means "Land of Prince" in Persian).

In 1021 the last king of Vaspurakan, John-Senekerim Artsruni, ceded his entire kingdom to the Byzantine empire.

After Seljuk victory in 1071 at the battle of Manzikert the entire region fell under Seljuk control.

After Seljuk, Local Muslim rulers emerged, such as the Ahlatshahs and the Ayyubids (1207).

For a 20 year period, Van was held by the Anatolian Seljuk Sultanate until the 1240s when it was conquered by the Mongols.

In the 14th century, Van was held by the Kara Koyunlu Turks, and later by the Timurids.

The first half of the 15th century saw the Van region become a land of conflict as it was disputed by the Ottoman Empire and the Persian Safavid Empire.

after 2000 years, Iranians lost the Van & the Ottomans gained final and definite control of the city in 1548.

The Ottomans made Van into a separate Van state in about 1570.

During World War I by Ottoman troops started the Armenian Genocide.

An uprising in Van on April 20, 1915, against the Turks and in favor of the Russians happened.

The Russians finally relieved the Armenian defenders of Van in late May 1915.

By 1920, Van fell under Turkish control again and its remaining Armenian inhabitants were expelled in a final round of ethnic cleansing.

By the end of the conflicts, the town of Van was empty and in ruins. The city was rebuilt after the war a few kilometers east of the ancient citadel, which is now known as Van Castle (Van Kalesi).

In the 1950s Van suffered from a devastating earthquake.

Inscription of Xerxes the Great:

The rock inscription XV of Xerxes the Great of Persia (486-465 BC) cut in the southeastern facade of the Van Citadel.
The text has been wrote in old Persian (left-hand column), Babylonian, and Elamite and survives in a perfect condition:

A great god is Ahuramazda, the greatest of gods, who created this earth, who created that sky, who created man, who created happiness for man, who made Xerxes king, one king for all, one ruler for all.

I am Xerxes, the great king, the king of kings, king of all kinds of peoples with all kinds of origins, king of this earth great and wide, the son of king Darius, the Achaemenid.

King Xerxes says: King Darius, my father, by the grace of Ahuramazda built much that was good, and he gave orders to dig this niche out, but because he did not make an inscription, I ordered this inscription to be made.

May Ahuramazda and the other gods protect me, my kingdom, and what I have made.


Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Beautiful Nature & History
  • Cons:Water & electricity cut off
  • In a nutshell:an alive history album
  • Last visit to Van: Jul 2009
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (42)

Comments (5)

  • Jan 5, 2010 at 6:39 AM

    Great page. I wish I had your tips while I was in Van.

  • SLLiew's Profile Photo
    Dec 28, 2009 at 5:39 AM

    Great tips. Useful information. I like especially restaurant tips. Cheers, SL :)

  • PierreZA's Profile Photo
    Sep 27, 2009 at 10:06 AM

    Another excellent page! Thanks for sharing.

  • Aug 14, 2009 at 12:46 PM

    Excellent! It had to be an amazing trip, i enjoyed your tips a lot. Thanks

  • Andrew_W_K's Profile Photo
    Jul 24, 2009 at 2:16 AM

    Interesting tip. I think you were quite brave to photograph a military checkpoint. I'd be worried that they'd confiscate my camera.


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