We learn from the cuneiform inscriptions of the Assyrians and Urartians that the Van Castle, which was built by the king of the Urartians, Sardur I (840-830 BC), who established a great civilization in the region between 900-600 BC, was the capital of the kingdom mentioned for a century. Van Castle, one of the few old buildings in the world, is still standing today, although it has been around 3000 years. The castle is 2850 years old (855 BC).
The castle is located 4 km east of Lake Van and 5 km from Van's city center. The castle, extending towards the lake in the east-west direction, was built on a limestone cliff, 1800 m long, 120 m wide, and approximately 100 m high. It is steep from the south and dips from the north to the topographical feature. The north exit of the three-part castle is a gentle ramp from west to east. The entrance of the castle is at the northwest end. Just west of this is the Sardur Bastion, with a 47 m long rectangular plan, 13 m wide and 4 m wide.
When you climb up from the Van fortress's northwest end, the burial chamber of the Urartian King Argisti is encountered. In the southern part of the castle, the stone rooms where the kings lived and the neatly planned tomb rooms were carved into the bedrock. During the Ottoman Empire, these burial chambers were used as storage and arsenal. When you go east from the Argisti grave chambers, you can see the minaret, the door, the water tower, and the bastion built during the Ottoman Empire. Almost all of the Ottoman buildings rising on the Urartian walls were destroyed. There are burial chambers called "Founders" and "Menva Tomb Rooms" in the south of the castle's central part.
In the southern part of Van Castle, rock steps were descending from the top to the water tank below and called "Thousand Stairs" or "Devil's Stairs" by locals. Towards the middle of the rock to the south of Van Castle, the Fairy King Kserkes inscribed an inscription in cuneiform. Besides, there are many inscriptions about the kings' wars, victories, and works done in various parts of the castle. Four bodies surround Van Castle. Two of these body walls belong to the Akkoyunlu Turks and the Ottoman Turks. The other two belong to the Urartians. Inside the castle, there is a mosque, madrasah, barracks for soldiers, and water cisterns from the Ottoman period. During the Ottoman era, Van Castle was one of the important bases. Evliya Çelebi tells about Van Castle: About 300 janissaries and artillery live in the inner castle. Married soldiers used to stand in the partition fortresses on the Suluk Tower. Suleyman Khan Mosque is converted from the church, palaces, and madrasahs in the castle. It is impossible to reach the high walls of Van Castle.
After the Urartians, there were no remains other than the Persian inscription until the Ottoman Empire. The walls and towers on the east side, the castle entrance door facing the northwest, the fortification and other body walls, the Upper Castle, the Süleyman Han Mosque and its minaret, and various structures made of adobe and stone for military purposes are from the Ottoman period. The main walls, bastions, and towers that provide the fortification were made of rubble stone, adobe, and cut stone. These wall fortifications form the silhouette of the castle from the north. During the Ottoman period, the castle was used purely for military purposes. The main city was established in the south of the castle. The castle has survived to the present day as it was destroyed after 1915.
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