I. A Town Of Turkish Armenia

A Town Of Turkish Armenia, in the vilayet and 145 m. S. E. of the city of Erzerum, near the E. shore of Lake Van; pop. about 35,000. It is in a beautiful region of fruit trees and gardens. The streets are in a miserable condition, and there are no notable buildings excepting the palace of the local authorities, the mosques, and Armenian churches. A third chapel and a school were opened in 1874 by the American missionaries. Coarse cotton cloth is made and exported, and there are salt refineries. A rocky hill with a ruined citadel extends over one mile; inside the citadel are vast caves with cuneiform inscriptions and other relics referred to the days of Semiramis, who, according to tradition, laid out the city on a magnificent scale and resided there in summer; hence the Armenian name of Shamiramagerd, city of Semiramis. It took its present name from the Armenian king Van (371-351 B. 0.), who embellished and extended the place. Under the real or nominal rule of the Macedonian and Syrian Greeks it became known as Iban. It was afterward the seat of the Armenian dynasty of the Arsacidae, which, with intervals of Roman domination, reigned till A. D. 428, when the country was subjugated by the Persians. At the close of the 10th century Van flourished once more as the capital of the third Armenian kingdom of Vashburagan. The invasion of the Seljuk Turks in the 11th century ushered in a long series of calamities, and the extinction of the Armenian kingdom.

The sanjak of Van comprises a large population of Armenians, Kurds, and Turkomans. II* A celebrated salt lake, the largest in Armenia, about 1,400 sq. m. in extent, and 5,400 ft. (according to Rawlinson) above the sea level. It is a triangular basin extending N. E. to S. W. over 80 m. between Arnis and Tadvan; greatest width, between Akhlat and Van, about 50 m. It is surrounded by high mountains, reaching in parts the level of perpetual snow, alternating with beautiful plains. The waters are of the deepest blue; the luxuriant vegetation along its banks is unsurpassed in that part of Asia. It has no outlet, but is less impregnated with salt than Lake Urumiah, receives several streams, and contains islets. Among the interesting towns on the lake shore is Akhlat, once the residence of Armenian kings, with a vast population.