Province: Bitlis

The province of Bitlis is home to a unique blend of landscapes and cultures. Bitlis is a land of green pastures, soaring mountains, vast volcanic craters, as well as the beautiful shores of Lake Van.
Over the course of its history Bitlis has seen a march of nations from the prehistoric to the modern as the empires of the east and west have fought for control over this border region.
The volcanoes of Bitlis provided obsidian for the Stone Age tool makers that settled this relatively temperate region in a sea of harsh mountains. Assyrian and Old Persian culture dominated in the Bronze Age, and, come the early Iron Age the Urartian culture centered on the eastern shores of Lake Van dominated the region. The territory was contested by Romans, Sassanians, Armenians, and Byzantines then, in the Medieval period, the new Islamic powers expanded into the region, wresting it away from the old powers of Byzantium and Persia. The Armenians built churches and monasteries on the mountains and secluded bays, and the Seljuks built cities, from which they conquered the majority of Anatolia.
While Turkey’s East is dominated by the historic mosques, churches, palaces, and castles of the Arabs, Kurds, Armenians, and Georgians, the major centers of Bitlis are distinctly Turkish, with roots reaching back to Seljuk rule over 1000 years ago. This Turkish culture is still held onto and proudly celebrated by the people of Bitlis, Ahlat, and Adilcevaz.