Today’s Tatvan which is located on the lands of the villages of Urtap, Sorgun, Tug and Old Tatvan (Karsıyaka District) has a very old history in contrast to common belief. Tatvan named after different names such as Aiadi, Daududva, Daudyana, Taht-ı Van, Tadvan, Tatvân and Tahvan through the history has been used as a pass by various nations and in the meantime Tatvan also served as a pass for the armies of the rulers including Dara, Alexander the Great, the ruler of Seljuk Alparslan, Timur, Yavuz Sultan Selim, Suleyman the Magnificent, Shah Ismail and IV. Murat. Urartians had dominated Van and its around apart from Tatvan since IX. BC for three centuries. After the domination of the Urartians that made Van their capital, the district became the home of various tribes. These tribes had a short or long contact with various states like Assyria, Med, Iran, Rome and Byzantium.
Islam and Ottoman Period
The period of Hz. Omer marked the beginning of new developments to Tatvan. Because from this date Bitlis and its surroundings joined the territory of Islamic State. After the Battle of Manzikert in 1071 Tatvan was dominated by Seljuks and this case continued until 1200 AC. Then Tatvan was invaded by Kharzem Shah State, Ilkhanids and Akkoyunlus.
One of the events that can be counted as a turning point in the history of Tatvan is the beginning of Ottoman dominance. After this success of the Ottoman army that defeated the Safavid army in the War of Caldıran Ottoman State took majority territories of East Anatolia under its control.
Ottoman Rulers benefited from Tatvan to a great extent when they set out on Iran expeditions. In fact it is known that during the Iran excursion between 1533-1535, Suleyman the Magnificent had a shipyard built in this port located in the southwest of Lake Van, and Sinan the architect was appointed to build three galleys. In the work of Matrakcı Nasuh Efendi Beyan-I Meneazil-I Sefer-i Irakeyn-I Sultan Suleyman that Suleyman the Magnificent tells his expenditures to Iran there is also a Tatvan miniature.
Tatvan in Evliya Celebi’s Travels
Evliya Celebi’s Travels contains some important information about Tatvan. Furthermore, there is information about the origin of the name of Tatvan. Here is the depiction of Tatvan by Evliya Celebi with his own words:
Menzil-i kal’a-ı Tahtıvan: Ekrâd kavmi Tatvân derler. Bu mahal Van eyâleti hududunda Van deryâsı kenarında Van paşasının hâssı subaşısı hâkimdir ve niyâbetdir. Mâtekaddem Süleymân Hân zamânında Zâl Paşa bir müfîd ü muhtasar kal’a binâ edüp derbend-i calendar olmuşdu. Ba’dehû Şâh Tahmasb asrında Acem Ercîş ve Adil Cevaz ve Ahlat kal’alarına istilâ etdikde bu Tahtıvan kal’asından gemiler ile Van kal’asına imdâd gitmesin içün Tahtıvan kal’asın harâb edüp hâlâ leb-i deryâda liman ağzında kal’a-misâl bir hân-ı kavî kalmışdır. Van paşasının bir ağası iki yüz âdem ile ol hânda hükûmet eder ve Van kulu tarafından bir ağa gümrüğü zabt edüp Van deryâsından gidüp gelen gemilerden bac ve gümrük, öşr-i sultânî alur. Bu hânın etrâfında ba’zı Ekrâd hâneleri vardır ammâ bir câmi’den gayrı çârşû-yı bâzârdan ve sâ’ir imâretden bir eser-i binâ yokdur. Ammâ imâr olacak bender-i lâzımdır. Zîrâ bir latîf limanı vardır.
According to these statements of Evliya Celebi the castle which was built by Zal Pasha during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent was destroyed by the armies of Safavid State in order to prevent the help that could pass to Van from Tatvan port. He states that there is an inn in Tatvan and around this inn Kurds live; but there is no bazaar or similar places for shopping other than mosques. As can be understood from the above statements, it is mentioned that the place was called Tatvan by the Kurds referring to Tatvan, which Evliya Celebi called Tahtivan. In addition, it is stated that Tatvan was within the borders of Van province, and it was under the command of the general of Van Pasha. The fact that military and commercial ships were operating between Tatvan and Van, customs duty was taken from these ships, it had a castle, and an inn shows that it was a vital port and a trance.
Tatvan in 20th Century
According to old land registry books, Tatvan which was a sub-district in the 16th century, regressed to a village of Kotum in 19th century and was become district in 1936. However, the center of this newly established district was chosen as Kotum village during the first periods, and then it was transferred to its current location. In the following periods, in parallel with the rapid development the administrative buildings located in Karsıyaka district of the city were moved to Tug district in June 1946.
Tatvan was a small rural settlement with a population of about three hundred when it was a district. The population which was 1234 in 1940, 1933 in 1945, 3179 in 1950, exceeded 10 thousand in 1965, 20 thousand in 1970, 40 thousand in 1980, and 50 thousand in 1985. The fact that Tatvan became the center of transportation and accommodation and some nomadic tribes settled in Tatvan played an important role in the rapid increase of the population. Moreover, the fact that Tatvan is a port city that enables transportation to Van and Iran is one of the factors that affect its development.
Historical Artifacts in Today’s Tatvan
It is possible to witness in Tatvan scattered historical monuments cannot save themselves from the destructive effects of nature and people. Although it is easier to understand the destruction of nature, it is not so easy to explain the destructive effect of humans. Because the destruction of history means the destruction of oneself. After all, it is possible to come across historical artifacts that have survived, albeit in the form of remains, in Tatvan. Accordingly, we have a picture regarding to the distribution of historical artifacts in Tatvan: 11 castles, 5 mosques, 4 caravanserais, 2 cupolas, 2 fountains, 2 bridges, 3 historical houses, 4 historical caves and 54 churches.
The Urartian city ruins within the municipal public beach, the Seljuk period cemeteries in Kurusu and Dalda villages, many monasteries or churches especially monasteries in Kıyıduzu, Gollu, Koyunpınar villages, the tombs of Islamic civilization and the Ottoman period El Aman Caravanserai are the monuments that attract attention.
Geographical Structure coğrafi yapı
In general, most of the land within the boundaries of the district is mountainous and plateau. The climate of the district shows the continental climate feature. Mount Nemrut forms the highest point in the district. The height of Mount Nemrut is 2,878m. there are three lakes, one of which is large, at the crater mouth of this mountain. The altitude of the district is 1,650 meters above sea level, and it is 100km to the west of Lake Van. It has coastline. The continental climate prevails in the district. Although it is located in Lake Van basin, westerly winds blow more. Westerly winds from Rahva Plain and northeastern winds from Lake Van affects Tatvan.
It is possible to come across historical artifacts in Tatvan that have survived, albeit in the form of remains. Accordingly, there are 11 castles, 5 mosques, 4 caravanserais, 2 cupolas, 2 fountains, 2 bridges, 3 historical houses, 4 historical caves and 54 churches.
Castles that have an important place among historical monuments are Kalekilan Castle and Tatvan Castle. Apart from this, a remnant castle of unknown history in Karsıyaka district continues to exist in need of archeological research. Also, there are Milkan (land) Castle and Milikali (Mountain) Castles in the Adabag village of the central district, Sarıdal and Pelli villages of the Yelkenli sub-district, and on the Orenlik village of the central district. There are also ruins of a castle in the villages of Anadere and Sarıdal.
Moreover, in the south-west of the district, on the upper part of today’s Ahlat road, there are 40 obelisks of various sizes resembling to camels.
In addition to these historical places in Tatvan, there are also important places to visit and take a vow that have both historical and touristic value. One of the is Abdulcelil Behtani tomb.
Another important place to visit and take a vow is the tomb of Huseyin Dede (Bapir-i Kal). Known as Bapir-i Kal among people, his real name is Huseyin Dede. It is claimed that his lineage bases on Ebubekir and lived between 1470-1550.
One of the most important touristic areas in Tatvan is the Tatvan East Anatolia Fair. The fair, which was opened in the garden of today’s Imam-Hatip High School as the Eastern Industry Exhibition in 1968, was named Tatvan Eastern Anatolia Fair with a decision taken in the same year. The fair gained fixed facilities in 1971 and was opened to the exhibition continuously until 1978. However, the fair, which was closed for four years, was tried to be revived as of 1981.
Tatvan East Anatolia Fair, which still continues its activities with various social and cultural activities on the lake shore, on an area of approximately 90,000 square meters, has been in great demand in recent years.
One of the important touristic places in Tatvan is Nemrut Crater, which is the largest crater in the world, and Lake Nemrut, which is a natural wonder.
Mount Nemrut, located in the northwest of the town center, also paved the way for the formation of Lake Van as a result of volcanic eruptions. Next to the crater lake, which is about an hour away from the district center, there is also a hot water lake called the green lake. There are also crater chimneys spewing hot air from place to place. Small groves of various trees around the lake make Nemrut peak more beautiful.
Another touristic region is the Sapur spring water and its vicinity, which comes from the skirts of Kariz Mountain and within the borders of Obruz (Kamer) village on the Van highway. Sapur Water, which attracted great attention until recent years, has lost its importance due to terrorist incidents. Thanks to the tranquility achieved in our region in recent years, other historical and touristic places such as Sapur have started to attract partial attention again.
There is only one accommodation facility in our district with the Ministry of Tourism Operation Certificate. This is the three-star Tatvan Kardelen Hotel with 75 rooms and 154 beds.
The construction of Erhat Hotel, one of the facilities with investment certificate, has been completed but has not yet started its operations. If all of the facilities with investment certificates in Tatvan are completed, they will make a significant contribution to tourism with the number of certified beds and its parts.
District folk households generally have a large population structure. According to the records of the District Population Directorate, it is understood that 48,682 of the 94,697 people registered in Tatvan Population are male (Q,41) and 46,015 are female (H,59). Considering this population density, it is seen that unemployment is widespread as a result of insufficient livelihoods. Most of the unemployed people in the district earn their living by working in constructions during the summer months. The people of the district reflect the general family structure and traditions of the region with their customs and lifestyle. But the contemporary lifestyle and worldview are becoming widespread. People are open to innovation. The rate of reading newspapers and publications is not yet at the desired level. Reinforced concrete construction is intense in the town center and its villages but houses with earthen roofs made of stone are used especially in the villages.
The economy of our district is mainly based on agriculture and animal husbandry. Besides, trade is another important source of livelihood.
Agriculture and Animal Husbandry tarım ve hayvancılık
The total assets of our district are 226,088.77 da, agricultural area, 221.002.02 decare, Pasture area, 750 decare, Meadow Field, 210.018.20 decare, Forest area, 21,506.25 decare, residential areas and 284.667.23 decare. It is 964,033,230 da.
The estimated income from agriculture and animal husbandry in our district in 2009 is 14,764,441.59 TL. 10.015.441.79 TL of this income was obtained from plant production. The ratio of the population living on agriculture in the district is calculated as 26%.
Although the total surface area of our district is 1.235.000 decares, 68 parts of it constitutes agricultural areas.
Within the scope of 2009 Farmer Registration System, in our district;
Animal existence in our district is not at the desired level. Factors such as the economic situation of the people, the land conditions, the marketing problem and the high cost of inputs prevent the development of animal husbandry. Although animal husbandry is still a source of livelihood in our district, it has not developed as a business model. Despite this, a few businesses were formed. There are approximately 85,000 small cattle, 7000 cattle and 4,400 poultry in the district. The plateaus of our district are suitable for beekeeping in terms of flower flora. A total of 17,914 bee hives belonging to 67 wandering beekeepers who came to our district in 2009 were placed in accommodation areas.