Tatvan was built in the 19th century to serve the railroad: trains from Istanbul and Ankara arrived here, the rail cars were loaded onto big lake ferries and transported across the great salt Lake Van to the city of Van, from which some cars went on to Iran.
Thus Tatvan has a selection of hotels and restaurants, none of which are great, some of which are serviceable.
The PKK Kurdish terrorism of the 1980s and 1990s curtailed rail service, not to mention tourism, so Tatvan’s role switched from civilian and commercial to military.
With the decline of the PKK Tatvan’s tourismfortunes may revive because it’s well placed to be a base for visits to the Seljuk Turkishmonuments of Ahlat, the crater lake in the extinct volcano of Nemrut Dağı, and Akdamar Island.
Distances & Travel Times
Ahlat: 44 km (27 miles) N, 45 minutes
Ankara: 1098 km (682 miles) W, 20 hours
Bitlis: 25 km (16 miles) W, 35 minutes
Diyarbakır: 229 km (142 miles) W, 4 hours
Edremit: 119 km (74 miles) E, 2 hours
Erciş: 98 km (61 miles) N, 2 hours
Erzurum: 333 km (207 miles) NW, 5.5 hours
Gevaş: 90 km (56 miles) E, 2 hours
Istanbul: 1644 km (1022 miles) W, 28 to 34 hours
Malatya: 579 km (360 miles) W, 10 hours
Malazgirt (Manzikert): 139 km (86 miles) NW, 2.5 hours
Nemrut Dağı Crater Lake: 30 km (19 miles) N, 45 minutes
Van: 150 km (93 miles) E, 2.5 hours