Van has often been called "The Pearl of the East" because of the beauty of its surrounding landscape. An old Armenian proverb in the same sense is "Van in this world, paradise in the next." It was one of the most beautiful cities of Asiatic Turkey— a city of gardens and vineyards, situated on Lake Van in the centre of a plateau bordered by magnificent mountains. The Vilayet of Van had a higher percentage of Armenians in its population than any other province of the Ottoman Empire. It was initially the Capital of Urartu in the 9th century BC, and later as the center of the Armenian kingdom of Vaspurakan. Archeological excavations and surveys indicate that the history of human settlement in this region goes back as far as 5000BC. Today, the city of Van gets a lot of tourists for it’s well known Van Lake and the Akhtamar church.
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