The Lake Van Monster – aka Bestami

In 1889, on a sunny spring morning, three friends begin a journey from Bitlis and walk to Mus. When they arrive in Tatvan, one of them heads down to the shore of the Lake Van to perform wudu. The moment the man gets close to the water, a creature from beneath the surface quickly approaches and catches him. The creature jumps out 25 meters above the water with a frightening scream and then disappears in the lake with the man.

This is a news story published in a newspaper during the reign of Abdulhamid II. The creature that supposedly killed the man is known as the Lake Van Monster or as Bestami, the surname of the deputy governor of Van who claimed to have seen the monster in 1995.

In the first episode of our “Urban Myths” mini-documentary series, we investigate the roots of the “Lake Van Monster” story and the role media played in spreading the myth. In the “The Lake Van Monster – aka Bestami” episode, we try to find out what the thousands of people, who claimed to have seen the monster, actually saw.

Thanks to Prof. Dr. Mustafa Sari, the dean of the faculty of maritime studies at Bandirma Onyedi Eylul University, for providing us with the insight into the ecosystem of the Lake Van.