Van (Kurdish: Wan, Armenian Վան) is a city in eastern Turkey and the seat of Van Province, and is located on the eastern shore of Lake Van.
Under the ancient name of Tushpa, Van was the capital of the Urartian kingdom in the 9th century BC. Its ancient inhabitants called themselves Nairi. The city was a major Armenian center. The area of Van became once more an important center during the reign of the Armenian king, Tigranes II, who founded the city of Tigranakert in the 1st century BC. The region came under the control of the Medes in the early 7th century BC and later by Persians in mid 6th century BC.
The Van region was conquered by Alexander the Great in 331 BC , and after his death,became part of the Seleucid Empire. By early 2nd century BC it was part part of the Kingdom of Armenia. Its later conquerors were the Parthians succeeded by the Romans. The Sassanids finally gained control of the area in the 4th century.
The Byzantine Empire hold briefly the region from 628 to 640 , when it was captured by the Arabs , who founded the Armenia (Ermeniye) province. Following the Sajids in 9th century the Byzantines regained control in 10th century and established the Vaspurakan thema.
The Seljuks conquered this region in 1054. After them the region was ruled by the Ahlatshahs and the Ayyubids(1207). After 20 years Van was captured by Anatolian Seljuks until 1240s when it was conquered by the Mongols. In 14th century Van was captured by Kara Koyunlu and later the Timurids.
Safavids captured Van in 1502. However ottomans captured the city in 1515 but Safavids take it back in 1520. Finally the Ottomans gained control in 1548 and founded a sanjak in Erzurum eyalet , and later a separate Van eyalet in about 1570.
The city's traditional Christian Armenian and Greek populations were devastated in WWI by Ottoman troops as a part of the Armenian Genocide. According to Turkish accounts, with Russian forces approaching Lake Van, the regional administrator ordered the execution of five Armenian leaders and a revolt resulted in Van on April 20, 1915 against the Turks and in favor of the Russians. However, most historians agree that the Armenians, hoping to avoid slaughter, fled to the mountains of Van to defend themselves against the Turks. The anti-Turkish and pro-Russian sentiments were in the hopes of being rescued from Turkish massacres. The Russians finally captured Van in late May of 1915. In August the Russian army left and the Turks re-occupied Van. Then in September of 1915 the Russians forced the Turks out of Van for the second time. Van was briefly part of the First Republic of Armenia in 1917 but then was recaptured by the Ottoman army in April of 1918.
By the end of the war, the town of Van was empty and in ruins. The new city was rebuilt after the war near the old city.