The Van Cat and The Van Cat Villa
A very important symbol of Van is the beautiful Van Cat (Van Kedisi), famed throughout the world. The Van Cat is characterized by its silky white fur and its unusual eyes; usually blue or amber, some Van Cats have heterochromia – one eye of each colour. The cats also possess excellent hunting skills and have been known to swim. To see the cats, visitors can go to the Van Cat Villa, at Yüzüncü Yıl University in Van. The Van Cat Villa (Van Kedi Evi) is a dedicated home for these cats, now protected due to a risk of extinction.
Van Cats are divided into three groups according to their eye colour: cats with blue eyes; cats with amber eyes; and cats with one blue and one amber eye.
The pearl mullet (inci kefali), aka the Flying Van Fish, is the only type of fish that can survive in the saline soda water of Lake Van. Although it is called a mullet, it is actually a member of the carp family. Found only in this closed basin, the pearl mullet is 20 cm long and weighs 80-90 grams. They are unable to breed in the lake water, so migrate annually in schools in July and June. The fish swim opposite the current and “fly” over the obstacles on the streams. After spawning, they return to the lake.
The traditional, carnival-like Flying Fish Festival is held every year in the first week of June by the Deliçay River (Deliçay Nehri) in the town of Erciş.
Of the approximately 450 bird species found in Türkiye, 213 can be seen in the Lake Van Basin (Van Gölü Havzası). One of these species is the flamingo, called allı turna in Anatolia. The Lake Van Basin is located on the bird migration route, which makes Lake Erçek (Erçek Gölü) extremely important from an ornithological perspective. Each year, flamingos come to the area in April and stay until November, feeding and breeding, and their number reaches 10,000 some years. The Erçek Lake Flamingo Festival, The Wings of the East, held every year in mid-October, is a carnival of brilliant colour.
Gevaş Abalı Ski Resort
The Gevaş Abalı Ski Resort (Gevaş Abalı Kayak Merkezi) is an important address in Türkiye, not just for amateur ski activities, but also for professional ski sports. The Abalı Ski Resort is qualified as one of the few ski resorts in the world offering significant runway slope and length, as well as snow quality and thickness. Featuring a view of Lake Van, the Abalı Ski Resort offers brilliant turquoise and white panoramas to ski lovers. Breath-taking views of Lake Van are especially vivid on the beginning of the ski trail from Mount Artos (Artos Dağı).
Paragliding in The Sky of Lake Van
Paragliding is carried out on all slopes, hills and mountains that are higher than 150 meters and offer suitable wind conditions, especially on Mount Artos (Artos Dağı) in Gevaş, Mount Erek Erek Dağı) in Abalı, Dağönü village (Dağönü Köyü), and Mount Gören (Gören Dağı). This sport can be performed in summer and winter, if there is no precipitation and strong wind.
Edremit-Gebze Water Sports Center
A variety of water sports events are held at the Edremit-Gebze Water Sports Center (Edremit Gebze Su Sporları Merkezi) on the shore of Lake Van (Van Gölü). In addition to beach football and volleyball, the Aquatics Center offers sailing, canoeing, rowing, dragon and banana boating, parasailing, trampoline and water skiing, along with swimming in the lake or pool.
Rafting in Bahçesaray Müküs Brook
The Müküs Brook (Müküs Çayı) in Bahçesaray offers ideal conditions for rafting, as well as beautiful scenery along the route.
Silver Jewellery Produced with Niello Technique
Van is a city with thousands of years of experience in handcrafts. Among these handicrafts is Silver Jewellery produced with the Niello Technique, which is included in the list of Geographically Marked products. The production of silver ornaments created with the Niello Technique, which involves figures engraved on precious metals with the application of a niello mixture of lead, copper, silver and sulphur, is among the traditional crafts of the region.
Walnut Wood Carving
Walnut wood carving is a tradition in the Bahçesaray and Çatak towns of Van. Some of the hand carved items include dowry chests, mortars, bowls and spice holders, cookie boxes, candlesticks, among others. Wood carving, along with crafts such as pottery, are very much alive in the region.
Carpet weaving is another long-running tradition in Van and the Van rug (Van Kilimi) is renowned for its high quality and distinctive designs, with weavers including symbols and motifs that express feelings such as love, sadness, and hopes for the future. Rugs are named according to the weaving tribe or the main motif used: Canbezar, Gülhazar, Lüleper, Gülsarya, Şehvani, Gülgever and Lustwani. The carpets themselves, woven with wool yarn using natural dyes, are almost a museum of civilization.