Bitlis (or Bidlîs) is a city in the Kurdish region of Turkey. Only 15km from Lake Van, the city has an elevation of 1,500 meters (or 4593 feet). The city is located on the Bitlis River, a tributary of the Tigris river, and is close to many urban centers.
Bitlis Climate and Architecture
The mountainous region around Bitlis can lead the climate to be very harsh, with long winters and heavy snowfalls. Summers in the region can get quite hot, with an average high of 87 degrees Fahrenheit.
The area is known for its preservation of medieval and traditional architecture. Commissioned by mostly Kurdish rulers, the architecture comes in the formes of Mosques, dating back to the 12th century. One of the most notable pieces of architecture is the Bitlis Castle, a structure that is said to have been built by the order of Alexander the Great.
Before being occupied by the Kurds, Bitlis was one of the most important cities in the Kingdom of Armenia, and was home to a great fortress that served as a connecting point for the historical Armenian region of Arzanene. Bitlis prospered under Armenian rule, from sometime around 500AD-1300AD.
By the 12th-13th century, the city was conquered by the Kurds and became the capital of the medieval “Principality of Bitlis,” a Kurdish emirate that is said to have lasted from the 12th to the 19th century. Although the region came under control of outsiders, including the Safavids and the Ottomans, the Kurds who ruled the area maintained relative independence from outside control.
In the early 19th century, Bitlis was home to around 12,000 people — half Muslim, half Christian. By the end of the century, however, that population has grown to 30,000, and included a large population of Armenians. The Armenian population in Bitlis was decimated in 1915, due to the Armenian genocide.