Van Castle (Van Kalesi) & Eski Van

Ruins in Van

About 4km west of the centre, Van Castle dominates the view of the city. Visit at sunset for great views across the lake. Catch a 'Kale' minibus (TL2) from İskele Caddesi to the castle's northwestern corner for the ticket office. From the summit the foundations of Eski Van – the old city destroyed in WWI – reveal themselves on the southern side of the rock.

A few surviving buildings include the restored Hüsrev Paşa Külliyesi (1567), the nearby Kaya Çelebi Camii (1662), with a striped minaret; the brick minaret of the Seljuk Ulu Camii; and the Kızıl Camii (Red Mosque).

Just past the ticket office is an old stone bridge. To the left, a stairway leads up the rock past a ruined mosque and an arched-roof building which used to be a Koranic school.

At the ticket office ask the custodian (he'll expect a tip) to show you the huge cuneiform inscriptions (ask for the tabela), as well as the numerous khachkars (Armenian crosses) that are carved into the southern side of the rock. Look out also for the water reservoir, an ancient hamam and a ruined palace (not visible from the top of the rock). The Kızıl Camii and Ulu Camii can also easily be approached further south.

On the way back to the ticket office in a willow forest is Sardur Burcu (Sardur Tower; 840–830 BC). This large black stone rectangle sports cuneiform inscriptions in Assyrian praising the Urartian King Sardur I.