Not often one gets to see structures which were built more than 2000 years ago. When we arrived to Van people told us we should see the Van castle alongside with some other historical monuments. But not before I went to the castle & found cuneiform inscriptions which could date as far back as Babylon, Urartu or other ancient kingdom I realized that this castle is actually very old.
It is a huge fortification dug in stone and on this big rock. Its length is almost 1km. The castle was built by the ancient kingdom of Urartu during the 9th to 7th centuries BC, and is the largest example of its kind. One of the walls bears a cuneiform inscriptions by Xerxes the Great from the 5th c. BC. – read here.
A number of similar fortifications were built throughout the Urartian kingdom, usually cut into hillsides and outcrops in places where modern-day Armenia, Turkey and Iran meet. Successive groups such as the Armenians, Romans, Medes, Achaemenid and Sassanid Persians, Arabs, Seljuks, Ottomans and Russians each controlled the Van castle A number of similar fortifications were built throughout the Urartian kingdom, usually cut into hillsides and outcrops in places where modern-day Armenia, Turkey and Iran meet. Successive groups such as the Armenians, Romans, Medes, Achaemenid and Sassanid Persians, Arabs, Seljuks, Ottomans and Russians each controlled the Van castle at one time or another.
Different parts of the castle were dug in rock or built of stone and mud bricks.
You can still see remnants of mud brick and mud walls here and there, but the main wall has been reconstructed recently.
But took its toll on the structure and many parts of the castle are completely of partly destroyed by time and elements of nature.
The halls and rooms hewn in stone are mostly located on the Southern wall of the monolith. Some of them are not easy to reach as there are no stairs and I had to climb and crawl.
Some halls are quite big and tall and doors lead to further rooms, not really far though. Outside you can see that they were complemented by outside structures made of mud bricks and probably wood.
Quite a big area to the south was enclosed by a fortified wall remnants of which you can still see. The area was most probably used for living. There are ruins of several buildings including two mosques are still standing in the walled area.
Both mosques have remnants of walls and one minaret standing. Old falling apart stairs lead the way up, but the only inhabitants of these minarets now are birds.
It is amazing how this ancient structure which has huge historical importance can be left without attention. Some reconstructions works are under way now. But many areas of this huge castle look abandon & not taken care. I did not manage to find an official entrance and asked construction workers. They just showed me to paths leading up to the castle.
If you happen to be in Van you should definitely visit this unusual and interesting place. Choose time closer to the evening to catch a sunset. The castle overlooks the lake of Van & must be a great sunset viewpoint.
What is the oldest structure you have visited? Please share with me your experiences.