A great holiday destination does more than just offer superb vistas, heavenly sandy beaches or stellar resorts replete with unimaginable luxuries. It regales you with legendary tales of love and romance, cloaked in rich historical and cultural myths. One destination with more than its fair share of all these visitor attractions in Turkey.
The more discerning traveler should seize every chance to see the wild side of Turkey. Going off the beaten path to hidden gems tucked away in the countryside will spring pleasant surprises to delight anyone. One of these places is Lake Van, in the southeastern region of Turkey.
This unique saltwater lake is located in the beautiful Anatolia region of Turkey. It is the largest lake in Turkey and has four islands.
Near the southern shore, is the second largest island, Akdamar which is a treasure trove of history and natural beauty? Local legend has it that a local boy, in love with Princess Tamar who lived on the island, used to swim across the lake to see her. One day he drowned, with the last words on his lips being “Ach Tamar”. The Princess, when she heard the terrible news, cried herself to death. This gave rise to the name Akdamar.
Visitors to Akdamar Island should look forward to the following:
Boat cruise to Akdamar
Lake Van boasts of serene vistas with imposing peaks around it that stretch as far as the eye can see to the Iraqi border. There is no better way to enjoy this than to take a boat ride to the island of Akdamar. There is a regular ferry if you cannot charter a private boat.
The Church of the Holy Cross
This tenth-century church is the main draw to this lovely island. Built by the Armenian King Gagik Artsruni, the church stands in a monastery complex that now lies in ruins. The church has been restored to its former glory and has an amazing collection of carvings set in bas-relief on its outer walls. The most prominent is that of the King himself on the west wall. Others are animal art and biblical characters. The inside of the church also contains frescoes giving vivid portrayal to scenes from the New Testament.
There are ruins of the monastery that was destroyed after being abandoned in World War 1. The excavation of the ruins is not yet complete.
You may climb up the hill that stands next to the church and revels in views of the lake and beyond. Akdamar has lovely picnic sites where you can sample the tasty inci kefali fish dish. Later, you may stretch and breathe in the fresh breeze as you sip Turkish style tea, or enjoy a swim in the lake under the watchful gaze of the resident gulls.
If you are looking for a holiday experience different from the clichés in glossy brochures, then Akdamar is the place for you. All you need to do is apply for the travel visa Turkey issues online to all visitors, and be on your way to this land of endless wonder.