A Journey Through Iran's Unique Stepped Villages

Given Iran's diverse climatic conditions, we can observe various architectural styles in different regions. Due to climatic conditions, many villages in Iran are built in a Stepped fashion. Nestled on mountain slopes, these villages are enhanced by their mountainous beauty. Observing that one house's roof serves as another's courtyard can be fascinating for visitors.
What defines a stepped village in Iran?

Stepped villages in Iran are characterized by their terraced architecture, which is adapted to mountainous terrain. Homes are built into the slopes such that the roof of one house serves as the courtyard or garden of the home above it. This distinctive design minimizes the use of flat land and often provides excellent insulation against severe weather.

 These villages are a testament to the adaptability and ingenuity of rural Iranian communities. They reflect a traditional way of life that is closely tied to the natural environment. The architecture not only provides a practical solution to housing on steep slopes but also fosters a unique communal lifestyle where neighbors are closely interconnected.

Many stepped villages offer guesthouses or homestays that allow visitors to experience local life. Staying in these accommodations supports the local economy and provides an immersive way to understand the culture and daily routines of the villagers.

Expect a lot of walking on steep and uneven paths, so wear comfortable walking shoes. Since these villages are often located in remote areas, it’s a good idea to bring necessary supplies like water, snacks, and first-aid items. Visitors should also be prepared for basic accommodations if planning to stay overnight.

Masouleh and Palangan are among the most famous stepped villages due to their striking architecture and picturesque settings. Masouleh is particularly well-known for its fog-covered landscapes and vibrant market, while Palangan impresses visitors with its scenic views and traditional Kurdish culture.

Respect the privacy and traditions of the local residents. Ask for permission before taking photos, especially of people. Try to minimize your environmental impact by avoiding littering and stick to marked paths to preserve the natural and built environment.

The best time to visit these villages is during spring (April to June) or early autumn (September to October) when the weather is mild and the landscapes are at their most lush and vibrant. This timing avoids the harsh winters and hot summers that can make traveling in mountainous regions uncomfortable.

Frequently Asked Questions: Exploring Iran’s Stepped Villages

What you will read in this article:

Palangan Stepped Village

Kamyaran city in Kurdistan province is one of the regions in Iran that boasts numerous natural attractions. Palangan is among Iran’s terraced villages located in this region, about 45 kilometers from Kamyaran. The town dates back to pre-Islamic times and is renowned for its abundant springs and scenic valleys, adding a distinctive charm to the area. The warm and temperate summers of Palangan, its beautiful historical castle, perennial mineral springs, and Stepped waterfalls are among its tourist attractions. No vehicles are allowed to enter the village. Approximately 1,000 people live in this village, and interacting with them will provide a delightful experience of hearing the sweet Urami dialect. The pleasant weather in the springtime attracts nomads, who migrate here and showcase captivating ceremonies during their migration, becoming one of the prime attractions for tourists.

Ashtebin Stepped Village

There’s a paradise-like region in East Azerbaijan called Ashtebin, located along the shores of the Aras River, nestled amidst towering emerald-green mountains. The mesmerizing blue skies of this astonishing village and the sound of the river and the forests surrounding it are truly captivating. Sericulture has traditionally flourished in this village, drawing many tourists. The ancient graveyard and marble inscriptions from the 9th and 10th Hijri centuries speak of the village’s long history. Be sure to try the bread baked by the local women of this village.

Oraman Takht, Kurdistan

Oraman Takht is another of Iran’s terraced villages in Kurdistan province. This village hosts numerous domestic and international tourists annually, quickly making it one of the country’s top tourist attractions. The superb mountainous region is situated on the Iran-Iraq border, attracting countless visitors yearly. To reach Oraman Takht, one must travel approximately 65 kilometers from Marivan. One of the main reasons for its popularity among tourists is two ceremonies held there, on the last Thursday leading up to February 4th and May 5th, named “Komsay,” each with unique traditions. Beyond its untouched nature, the local dress and foods cooked in this area also appeal significantly to tourists.

Kang Stepped Village

Nestled in the foothills of the Binalud mountains is another of Iran’s stepped villages, named Kang. The town is 19 kilometers west of Torghabeh and 29 kilometers from Mashhad, reminiscent of Masuleh from pre-Islamic times. If you opt to cover the distance on foot, it would take about an hour and a half. The architectural style and structure of the houses here resemble the famous village of Masuleh. A mosque and a 150-year-old religious communal house are among the village’s ancient constructions.

Esfidan Stepped Village

Located in the Bajnurd district, Esfidan (or Espedan) is a touristic village with a delightful climate and is counted among Iran’s stepped villages. There is a mineral water spring 3 kilometers from Esfidan, which draws many tourists to the area. Qari Malaq and Qarghe are ancient stone towers near the village, of which only the bases remain. The town also boasts valleys, waterfalls, and many beautiful historical castles. “Tash Castle” in the west of Esfidan showcases rock walls that indicate an ancient past.

Hejij Stepped Village

Nestled within the foothills of the mountains in Kermanshah province is the village of Hejij, one of the region’s top tourist attractions. Located 25 kilometers from the city of Paveh, the route to the town is winding, making Hejij one of the most astonishing villages in Iran. The houses in Hejij are all built from stone in a dry-stacked, terraced style due to space constraints. The Bel Spring, which feeds into the Sirwan River, is among its attractions. The water of this spring never diminishes throughout the year and is considered one of the world’s finest mineral waters.

Roein Stepped Village

Moving a bit southeast of Bajnurd; we come to the village of Roein. Located in the winding alleys of Bajnurd, this village lies 52 kilometers southeast of Bajnurd, nestled in one of the valleys of the southern Aladagh mountain range. The town is filled with apple trees, and if you visit during spring, you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped into a paradise of blossoms. With a history of 500 years, Roein houses the shrine of Imamzadeh Es’haq and ancient mounds, earning its place as one of Iran’s top stepped villages and one of its most frequented by tourists.

Stepped Village of Sar Agha Seyed in Kouhrang

 Nestled among the mountains of Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari is another picturesque village called Sar Agha Seyed in Kouhrang. Located approximately 87 miles from Shahrekord, this village is renowned among tourists for its terraced mud-brick houses reminiscent of the architecture of Masouleh. The town was named after a shrine dedicated to the same name, surrounded by ancient walnut trees and beautiful springs. Spring and summer are the best times to visit this terraced village.

Stepped Village of Masouleh

The terraced village of Masouleh, which has since evolved into the town of Masouleh, stands as one of Iran’s most famous tourist attractions and a prime example of Stepped architecture globally. This town is situated in the bustling province of Gilan in northern Iran, roughly 40 miles west of Rasht. A visit to Masouleh hits two birds with one stone! Historical sources suggest that the area dates back around 800 to 1,000 years, offering some of Iran’s most breathtaking natural vistas. Nestled on the forested slopes of the Alborz mountains at an elevation of 3,445 feet above sea level, Masouleh boasts a relatively pleasant climate in the summer.

Stepped Village of Zonuzaq

Located in the East Azerbaijan province is the village of Zonuzaq, which boasts a history spanning 800 years. Zonuzaq can be described as Iran’s largest Stepped village, encompassing a stunning and verdant region. The villagers are notably warm-hearted and hospitable. Several tourist attractions dot the landscape, including an ancient cemetery inscribed from the 9th century AH, the Zonuzaq castle and mosque, Damji Qiyeh waterfall, and Qaleh dam. Beyond these attractions, one can experience the delightful essence of the village during the summer when the rooftops are laden with drying plum leaves, a staple contributing to the village’s economy.