Standing on a steep hill overlooking the waters of Van Lake, Van Fortress is the sight to remember. It used to be the seat of the Urartian kings that ruled over the region in the beginnings of the first millennium BCE. Antonio Sagona and Paul Zimansky called their state "the kingdom of fortresses", and Van Fortress is the most impressive of these structures.
Sometimes, during a journey that was supposed to be rather uneventful, you can come across an unexpected historical monument. It is especially true in Turkey, where many monuments of the eastern region's rich past are still poorly documented and described. One of such monuments is the double Çarpıran Bridge that stands next to the important E99 route, connecting Diyarbakır and Van.
In the easternmost district of Turkey, very close to the Iranian border, perched on a steep rock, sits one of the most magnificent historical buildings of the country. It is known as Ishak Pasha Palace, an unexpectedly intricate pearl of architecture, contrasting its beauty with a mountainous and drab landscape. It still manages to surprise the travellers with its grandeur, but it must have made an even stronger impression on the weary merchants following the Silk Route. Across the valley, on a higher ridge, sits a much older structure - Doğubayazıt Fortress.
April 2018 was the month when extensive restoration programmes were announced by Turkish authorities. İmera Monastery in the Black Sea province of Gümüşhane, Armenian Cathedral of Ani in Turkey's eastern Kars Province, and St. Nicholas' Monastery in Kıyıköy village in Vize district are among the historical structures set for renovation. Let's hope that the works will preserve the character of these important monuments.
Ardahan Fortress rises over the northern bank of the Kura River, flowing slowly to the east. The hill where the fortress was erected has gentle slopes and an almost flat top. It dominates the fertile plain where the small town of Ardahan has developed. The valley has had strategic importance since the times unknown, as all the major transportation routes of the region pass through it. On the other hand, not much is known about the prehistory and ancient history of Ardahan, and the information available is a mixture of facts and myths. Sami Patacı from the University of Ardahan lamented: "[The Ardahan Province is] a relatively neglected area of archaeological research in northeastern Turkey. The dynamics of cultural development in this region at the northern frontier of the Near Eastern archaeology are still problematic, as its archaeology has so far received very limited attention, especially when compared with other borderlands in eastern Turkey and Transcaucasia."