Along the shore of lake Van from Tatvan is the small but significant town of Ahlat, famous for its splendid Seljuk Turkish tombs and graveyard.
Founded during the reign of Caliph Omar (AD 581–644), Ahlat became a Seljuk stronghold in the 1060s. When the Seljuk sultan Alp Arslan rode out to meet the Byzantine emperor Romanus Diogenes in battle on the field of Manzikert, Ahlat was his base.
Just west of Ahlat is an overgrown polygonal 13th-century tomb, Usta Şağirt Kümbeti (Ulu Kümbeti), 300m off the highway. It’s the largest Seljuk tomb in the area.
Further along the highway on the left is a museum, and behind it a vast Selçuk Mezarlığı (Seljuk cemetery), with stele-like headstones of lichen-covered grey or red volcanic tuff with intricate web patterns and bands of Kufic lettering.
Over the centuries earthquakes, wind and water have set the stones at all angles, a striking sight with spectacular Nemrut Dağı as a backdrop. Most stones have a crow as sentinel, and tortoises patrol the ruins.