Atop a hill overlooking the lake, the ruins of Van Castle, an ancient Urartian fortress, crumbles into the grasses below. The castle dates back to the 9th–7th centuries BCE, and sections of its walls are inscribed with declarations from the Persian king Xerxes the Great. Having only heard of the Urartians when we visited the Museum of Anatolian Civilisations in Ankara, I read up on them out of curiosity, and discovered that some of the descendants of the Urartians are the Armenians.
Van had at one time, a very large Armenian population. The only traces left behind from the once thriving community are the scars of walls, buildings and roads etched into the earth— their contours clearly visible from the top of the castle rock.
Van was rebuilt about four kilometres away from the castle, where it still stands today. It's hard to imagine, when looking out into the violet-blue of the lake, that this peaceful place was a scene of such unimaginable horror— but then again, isn't that how it always is? The rain washes, grasses cover, and the wind whittles away, but some scars never fade.
Some wounds cannot heal.