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Başkale is located in Turkey
Coordinates: 38°02′51″N 44°00′54″E / 38.04750°N 44.01500°E / 38.04750; 44.01500Coordinates: 38°02′51″N 44°00′54″E / 38.04750°N 44.01500°E / 38.04750; 44.01500
Country Turkey
 • Elected MayorErkan Acar (HDP)
 • State appointed trusteeAsim Solak
 • District2,730.89 km2 (1,054.40 sq mi)
 • Urban
 • District
 • District density23/km2 (59/sq mi)
Post code
Ruins of the Armenian Saint Bartholomew Monastery in Başkale. It was in use until the Armenian genocide[3]

Başkale (Kurdish: Elbak,[4] Armenian: Ադամակերտ Adamakert) is a town and district located in south-eastern Turkey in Van Province. There is one municipality in the Başkale district, the town centre, which was established in 1937. The neighbourhoods of the town of Başkale are: Tepebaşı, Yeni mahalle, Camii-Kebir, Samandöken, Cevkan, Kale, Hafıziye, Tarım, and Yakınyol. In the local elections of March 2019 Erkan Acar from the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) was elected mayor.[5]


Başkale is situated 20 km (12 mi) west of the Turkey-Iran border. 138 km (86 mi) of the national border is on the east and north-east of the Başkale district. Başkale shares district borders with Yüksekova district of Hakkari Province to the south, Saray and Özalp districts of Van Province to the north, and Gürpınar district of Van Province to the west.

Başkale is situated 2460 metres above sea level, in the valley of the Great Zab River (Zapsuyu), and the town stands on the eastern slope of the south-eastern Taurus Mountains. The majority of the 2,599 km2 (1,003 sq mi) Başkale district is mountainous. The agricultural portion is only 355 km2 (137 sq mi), approximately 14% of the total area. Başkale is enclosed by Mount (Yiğit)/Haravil (3468 m) in the east, Mount Başkale/İspiriz (3668 m) in the west, and Mount Gökdağ (3604 m) in the south-east. The mountains of Mor, Haravil, Mengene and Çekvan are in the district of Başkale. Other geographical features in Başkale include the Karasu river, and the plateaus of Nebirnav, Kevçikan, Hanasor, Çekvan, Aşkitan (Ülya), Perihan, Meydan, Harinan, Terazın, Sülav, Medgezeren, Pistekan, Herevil-Şirez, Derevan, Derik, Bağarük, Düava and Mengen.


Başkale was founded by Urartians as the town of Adamma. Since the 2nd century BC, it was known in Armenian language as Adamakert (Ադամակերտ) and was the main fortress of the Medz Aghbak district of the Armenian kingdom. Since 385 AD, control of the area alternated between Parthia and the Roman Empire. In the 3rd century AD, the Sassanid (Persian) Empire took control of the district from the Roman Empire.

After the division of the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire took control in the 6th century. In 645AD, Arabs took control of the Başkale area. In the period of the Arsacid and Bagratuni dynasties' rule, Adamakert was taken back by the Armenian kingdom after resisting the Persian and Arabians. During the Arsacid era, Adamakert was a part of Armenia's Aghbak district and was a possession of Vaspurakan's Artsruni dynasty. The 10th century chronicler, Tovmas Artzruni, wrote that the dynasty had originated in this region, and mentions the city-fortress of Adamakert as the residence of the dynasty (believed to be the site of present-day Başkale).[6]

After the Battle of Malazgirt in 1071, control passed to Seljuk Empire. After 1100, Ahlatshah beylik (Sökmenoğulları) controlled the area. After a short period of Ayyubid control and the Mongol attack of 1245, the region was controlled by Anatolian Seljuks, Ilkhanate, and Timur. After the overthrow of Timur in 1386 by Kara Koyunlu federation of Turkoman tribes, the Safavids took control at the beginning of the 16th century. When the Yavuz Sultan Selim defeated the Safavids in the Battle of Çaldıran, Van and surrounding area was included in Ottoman Empire, but control returned to the Safavids several times after the Battle of Çaldıran. In 1548, during the period of Kanuni Sultan Süleyman, the Ottoman Empire finally took full control of the area.

In 1829, the German orientalist Friedrich Eduard Schulz was murdered near Başkale, along with four servants. Schultz had been traveling in the area since 1827, recording evidence of Urartian culture. Başkale became the capital town of Elbak kaza of Hakkari sanjak in the Ottoman vilayet (province) of Van.[7]


According to Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition from 1911, the town included 10 thousand people, mostly consisting of Kurds but also 1.5 thousand Armenians and 1 thousand Jews.[8]


  1. ^ "Area of regions (including lakes), km²". Regional Statistics Database. Turkish Statistical Institute. 2002. Retrieved 2013-03-05.
  2. ^ "Population of province/district centers and towns/villages by districts - 2012". Address Based Population Registration System (ABPRS) Database. Turkish Statistical Institute. Retrieved 2013-02-27.
  3. ^ Bulut, Uzay (15 February 2022). "The Destruction of Christian Cultural Heritage". Providence. Retrieved 6 September 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ Adem Avcıkıran (2009). Kürtçe Anamnez Anamneza bi Kurmancî (PDF) (in Turkish and Kurdish). p. 57. Retrieved 17 December 2019.
  5. ^ "Van Başkale Seçim Sonuçları - 31 Mart 2019 Yerel Seçimleri". Retrieved 2020-05-19.
  6. ^ Fratadocchi, T. B., "The Church of Etchmiadzin at Soradir", Rome 1971.
  7. ^ Kamusü’l Alam
  8. ^ Maunsell, Francis Richard (1911). "Bashkala" . In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 3 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 465-466.

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