En route to Lake Van from Diyarbakır (and just a short diversion back west if you’re coming up from Mardin/Hasankeyf) is the Malabadi Köprüsü, one of the most impressive bridges in Anatolia, built in 1146 by an Artukid ruler. Next up is the historic town of BITLIS (1545m altitude), reached along an attractive winding gorge dotted with hans and old bridges.
Most people pass straight through this atmospheric, if impoverished, town in the headlong rush to Lake Van. This is a shame, as there is much to be seen here, and assuming you get here early enough in the day it’s easy to alight and explore the town before catching one of the very frequent dolmuşes on to Tatvan. With its dark stone houses and steep valley setting, Bitlis has the feel of an isolated nineteenth-century English mill-town, though it once controlled the pass from Syria to the Van region and Persia and Armenia beyond. Before World War I about half the inhabitants were Armenian, now it is predominantly Kurdish and famed for its tobacco.Read More