Türkİye, Environment

Caves in eastern Türkiye appeal to nature lovers and archaeology enthusiasts

Sheikh Curuh Cave, between Van's Catak and Sırnak's Beytüssebap, features stalactites, stalagmites, and shelters endangered yellow-spotted salamanders

Mesut Varol and Ozkan Bilgin  | 30.11.2023 - Update : 30.11.2023
Caves in eastern Türkiye appeal to nature lovers and archaeology enthusiasts

  • Sheikh Curuh Cave, between Van's Catak and Sırnak's Beytüssebap, features stalactites, stalagmites, and shelters endangered yellow-spotted salamanders
  • 3-story, 8-room dwelling carved into main rock in Gevas district, overlooking lake, draws attention with niches, wall inscriptions, and historical structures from middle ages

VAN, Türkiye

Habitat of endangered yellow-spotted salamanders and a three-story, eight-room dwelling carved into the rock in Gevas, in eastern Türkiye, Van's Catak district, the Sheikh Curuh Cave, flock by nature and archaeology enthusiasts.

Anadolu covers "Caves of Türkiye," which focuses on the distinctive features of caves in the Catak and Gevas districts of Van in the 14th section.

The Sheikh Curuh Cave, situated at the base of Mount Kato between Van's Catak and Sırnak's Beytüssebap districts, is notable for its natural stalactite and stalagmite formations.

The cave, situated 2 km from Catak River, measures 200 meters in length, 20 meters in width, and 25 meters in height, hosting endangered spotted salamanders.

After a roughly half-hour climb, climbers and nature enthusiasts can witness stalactites, stalagmites, and spotted salamanders in the cave.
Many nature enthusiasts visit the cave, 130 km from the city center, annually to observe spotted salamanders.

'The cave's most interesting feature is its water'

Omer Demez, the President of Valley Nature Sports Club, told Anadolu that mountaineering and cave exploration activities are gaining popularity in the region.

Having engaged in mountaineering in the region for years, Demez explained, "We discovered this place years ago. The cave boasts many stalactites and stalagmites, with its most intriguing feature being the water inside, housing endangered spotted salamanders. It has become a popular spot for climbers who witness these rarely found creatures, and together, we work to protect them."

Mountaineer Mahmut Celik, with about 3.5 years of experience, told Anadolu, "I came to this cave specifically to see the rare yellow-spotted salamanders, as there are various species of salamanders, and they thrive in humid and wet environments."

"We reached here with a half-hour walk from Catak River. The cave entrance is captivating, leading to a large and deep cave. The interior, home to bats, various bird species, and a frequent stop for wild goats, surprised us. Stalactites and stalagmites adorn the cave's depths. We welcome all nature enthusiasts to visit," mountaineering coach Baris Turgut said.

Carved three-story, eight-room dwelling on main rock attracts archaeology enthusiasts

The living area carved into the main rock in the hilly Baglama neighborhood of Gevas, known as the "Ucpinar Rock Churches" at an altitude of 2,150 meters, attracts archaeology enthusiasts and nature lovers.

In this settlement area, with an inconspicuous narrow entrance, carved stairs, spacious rooms, a tandoor, a pantry, niches, and wall inscriptions are present.

Strategically located overlooking Lake Van and considered to have been used in the Middle Ages, many archaeology enthusiasts and nature lovers visit this living area each year.

Rafet Cavusoglu, Dean of Yuzuncu Yil University's Archaeology Department, mentioned the area's intriguing historical remnants.

Cavusoglu mentioned "remnants indicating the cave's importance as a medieval settlement—a three-story rock dwelling with a terraced residential area. The top floor likely served as an administrative residence, while the lower levels accommodated the community. The interconnected second and third floors feature eight rooms, including a pantry and a tandoor. Numerous niches suggest regular use of this settlement."

Cavusoglu said they haven't encountered a similar site in their surface surveys.

He emphasized that it's a registered site in the Cultural Assets Inventory, well-preserved due to its challenging access, believing it's crucial for tourism, offering a unique glimpse into various architectural features resembling a house.

Despite being mistaken for an Urartian rock tomb, he highlighted that it has a single entrance and exhibits pottery outside and within the settlement area.

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