Van Castle & Old Van


About 4km west of the centre, Van Castle dominates the view of the city. Visit at sunset for great views across the lake. From the summit the foundations of Eski Van – the old city destroyed in WWI – reveal themselves on the southern side of the rock.

Catch a 'Kale' dolmuş (₺2.50) from İskele Caddesi to the castle's northwestern corner for the official entrance and ticket office.

From October to April the castle closes at 5pm.

From the ticket office, a path leads past a cafe area, then across a stone bridge to a stairway leading up the rock, past a ruined mosque and arched-roof building, which used to be a Koranic school, up to the summit.

To reach the ruins of Eski Van, veer to the right from the cafe area and take the path through the willow forest. A few surviving buildings include the restored Hüsrev Paşa Külliyesi (1567), the nearby Kaya Çelebi Cami (1662), with a striped minaret, the brick minaret of the Seljuk Ulu Cami, and the Kızıl Cami (Red Mosque). There are also remnants of an ancient hamam, a ruined palace and a water reservoir. The southern side of the rock outcrop also holds huge cuneiform inscriptions as well as numerous khachkars (Armenian crosses) that can only be seen from Eski Van below. In the willow forest itself is Sardur Burcu (Sardur Tower; 840–830 BC). This large black stone rectangle sports cuneiform inscriptions in Assyrian praising the Urartian King Sardur I.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Van attractions

1. Van Museum

0.64 MILES

This gleaming glass structure at the foot of Van Castle, built after Van's original museum was damaged in the 2011 earthquakes, houses the world's pre…

2. Hz Ömer Cami

3.34 MILES

This large, pale-yellow mosque is one of central Van's major landmarks.

3. Ulu Cami

3.51 MILES

Van's Grand Mosque is a major landmark in the central city.

4. Çavuştepe

12.67 MILES

The ruins of the Urartian fortress of Sarduri-Hinili, built by King Sardur II between 764 and 735 BC, sit scattered atop a rocky hill at Çavuştepe. The…

5. Gevaş Cemetery

17.72 MILES

Gevaş has a cemetery full of tombstones dating from the 14th to 17th centuries. Notable is the polygonal Halime Hatun Türbesi, built in 1358 for a female…

6. Akdamar Kilisesi

19.66 MILES

Perched on Akdamar Island, 3km out on Lake Van, Akdamar Kilisesi is one of the marvels of Armenian architecture. Built in 921 by the Armenian King of…

7. Altınsaç Kİlİsesİ

24.69 MILES

This relatively well-preserved Armenian church is perched on a mound overlooking the lake. From Akdamar, drive 12km towards Tatvan until you reach a…

8. Hoşap Castle

28.6 MILES

Hoşap Castle, built in 1643 by a local Kurdish chieftain, looms over the village of Güzelsu from its rocky perch. From the castle entrance you can see the…