Ahlat is one of the most amazing districts of the province of Bitlis. It's a very important ancient center of Turkish art and culture, located to the west of Van Lake, approximately 44 kilometers (27 miles) north of Tatvan. The town looks like an open air museum, with remains from various centuries and civilizations. Ancient Urartus called the area as "Halads".
Around 13th-14th centuries Ahlat was a commercial city with a population of around 300 thousand and was the political capital of a vast land. It was a city of culture, artisans and architects.
In Ahlat's Seljuk graveyards, currently a candidate for World Heritage site, there are more than 8 thousand monumental stones with or without inscriptions made of volcanic red stone from the area. These graveyards covering approximately 50 acres were used between 11th and 16th centuries. Some of the outstanding stone works can be seen at the archaeological museum. Not only inscriptions but there are also geometric motifs, vegetal patterns and stylized scripts can be found on the stone works.
Kumbets are domed mausoleums from Seljuks. Out of hundreds of kumbets originally in this area, today only 15 of them are still standing, some in bad shape. Some of the most spectacular ones in Ahlat are Emir Bayindir Kumbet, Emir Ali Kumbet, Sheikh Najmuddin Kumbet, Usta Shagird Kumbet (known as Ulu Kumbet), Cifte Kumbet, Hasan Pasha Kumbet, and Erzen Hatun Kumbet.
Some of the important and historic mosques in Ahlat that one should see are; Iskender Pasha from 16th century, Kadi Mahmut from 16th century, Bayindir from 15th century.