Mere pen and ink does not begin to do justice to the symphony of white mountains floating above the pale lake. But the attempt — if you’re lucky— is art.
TEAHOUSE AT ULU CAMII
I spent a few hours drawing this, with a couple of interested gents from the mosque checking in now and then to see how it progressed. As I drew, groups of people drove up and sat chatting in the teahouse. This is the same view the denizens of the ancient city had, from every single house, rising in tiers up from the lake.
ÖMER F DUK & TEAHOUSE
Take one on the teahouse. Check out the perfect imperial profile on the rock in the foreground! Ömer got a copy of his portrait, and his father got the original of his. I love this Hotel Cevizlibag.
ABOVE THE TOWN
Squinting at these hills from the hotel’s breakfast room, I could see traces of ancient building. It reminded me of the way old graffiti looks in Hagia Sophia: you can’t read it, but you know it ain’t part of the marble.
All these differing dates are true… the culture of Urartu did flourish here for thousands of years, but disappeared. It’s believed Urartians are the ancestors of the Armenian people. The town is proud and proprietary of their ruin, as well they might be. There was much intermingling between Turks, Kurds and Armenians before the governments began to interfere, around 1900.
This drawing took two hours and was witnessed by groups of giggling schoolchildren. I realised right away that I could easily spend the whole time in Van drawing this particular site. But I was frustrated at the time by knee problems, and knew I couldn’t get up those steep slopes to wander in the ruins themselves. See the figure just right of centre, standing on the oil with arms outstretched, taking in the whole world of lake and white mountains and cold clear air. How I envied him!
KEF KALESI DOORS
These doors lead to tunnels going throughout the mountain. In addition to the usual rumours of treasure, Abdullah told me that they are well-explored by archeologists. Things found there are in the Archeological Museum in Van.