TATVAN, a functional town lodged between the mountains and lakeshore 25km northeast of Bitlis, makes a good base for exploring the surrounding sights. It has smartened up considerably in the last few years, with a couple of new shopping centres, one of which holds a cinema and bowling, and a newly constructed promenade along the lakeshore. To the north is the massif of Nemrut Dağı with its crater lakes; further east around the lake are the impressive medieval remains at Ahlat.

Tatvan’s streets follow the grid layout common in new developments in Turkey, with the main street, Cumhuriyet Caddesi, running east to west 100m south of the lake.

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