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Some of the islands in Lake Van have monasteries and churches built on them; no doubt the remote location offered seclusion to the resident religious communities. Forty-one kilometers southwest of Van, Akdamar Island (a half hour sail from shore) is the most important of these. On the island stands the tenth century Church of the Holy Cross, now designated a museum, whose stone outer walls are richly carved with Old Testament scenes and figures. After sightseeing, swimmers and picnickers enjoy themselves around the island's almond groves. If you have time, visit Carpanak Island to enjoy its landscape and to wander around the 12th century church which has now been converted into a museum. Cavustepe, 35 km from Van on the Hakkari road, is an important Urartian citadel. Excavated in 1970, today you can see temples, a palace, a sacrificial altar and inscriptions. On the pastoral, winding road heading to Hakkari, the Zernek Dam Lake offers itself as a rest spot on the way to Hosap where a 17th century fairy-tale castle rises above a small hill. Although the exterior walls, crenellations and turrets are well preserved, the inside is badly damaged. Among the interesting geographical features around Lake Van, the Muradiye Waterfalls, 88 km north of Van, with a peaceful tea garden and good restaurants, and Gahnispi - Beyaz Cesme Falls, 60 km south of Van, are worth visiting.


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