The district town of Adilcevaz with its Byzantine-Seljuk fortress close to the lake (few remains), occupies the site of an Old Armenian settlement called Ardzgui 90km/60mi northeast of Bitlis on the western shore of Lake Van. The presence of cuneiform inscriptions and the discovery of stones with Urartian carvings used in the construction of the castle (now on display in museums in Van and Ankara as well as in one of Adilcevaz's schools) strongly suggests that there was also a Urartian stronghold on this spot. The finding of a necropolis of the period only 300m/330yds from the lakeside lends additional support.
At the western end of Lake Van, between Ahlat and Tatvan, towers the 2,935m/9,632ft volcanic cone of Nemrut Dagi. The huge summit caldera (diameter 7.5-8.5km/4.5-5.25mi; mean altitude 2,300m/7,550ft) is partially occupied by a freshwater lake (Nemrut Gölü) up to 150m/490ft deep in places. There is still some volcanic activity at the eastern end of the caldera; as well as several minor lakes, some of which are temporary in nature, fresh tuff and cinder cones and young lava flows with miniature craters are very much in evidence. To the north, situated east of the main lake, is a smaller lake (Ili Göl), 500m/550yds in diameter and 7-8m/23-26ft deep, where there are hot springs with temperatures up to 80°C/176°F. Southeast of it and a little higher up are some sulfur vents (fumaroles, solfataras). The sides of the caldera rise wall-like in places to heights of more than 2,800m/9,190ft. In earlier days Nemrut Dagi was apparently well wooded though today it is virtually denuded of trees.
In the hills above Adilcevaz, about 10km/6mi further north, are the ruins of a Urartian town. Its lofty situation means that the final lap of the journey must be made on foot (with a guide, about half an hour). Scattered on a sizable plateau at an altitude of 2,200m/7,220ft, the ruins date from the time of Rusa II (seventh century B.C.); they include remains of town defenses made from massive blocks of stone, a fortress with a bastion, storerooms containing huge storage jars, and a vast 30-roomed palace. The most typically Urartian features are the corner projections on the rough-hewn stone blocks, partially decorated with reliefs. Many scholars identify this site with Qallania where, in 714 B.C. during the Eighth Campaign, Sargon II halted with his Assyrian troops. Further to the northeast, among the foothills of Süphan Dag, there are traces of another Urartian building with Cyclopean walls (guide essential).Below the ruins of the citadel stand the remnants of an eighth/ninth century Armenian monastery church known as "The Wonder of Ardzgui".
The ascent of the 4,058m/13,318ft summit of Süphan Dagi, a massive volcano, the fourth highest mountain in Turkey, takes two days and is best attempted between July and September. The approach from Adilcevaz (guide) is from the east via Aydinlar Köyü and Sekerpinari Yaylasi (half-way camp, 6-7 hours to the top). The huge main cone consists principally of andesite and obsidian. A lava plug, one kilometer in diameter rising steeply from the floor of the 1.5km/1mile wide caldera, forms the actual summit cone. Above 3,000m/9,800ft cirques, small glaciers and firn fields are encountered, especially in the caldera.