Kandovan: A rocky village in Iran
In a remote north-western corner of Iran’s East Azerbaijan Province, south of the provincial capital Tabriz, lies the settlement of Kandovan. Not only is the area famous for its scenic beauty and the healing power of its spring waters, Kandovan is also home to a remarkable modern age troglodyte (cave dweller) community. It is known all around the world for its unique rock-carved houses dating back more than 700 years. The 5 star Kandovan Tourism Cliff Hotel is the first of its kind in Iran and the second in the world, after the luxurious Yunak Evleri Cave Hotel, in Cappadocia, Turkey.
The settlement is unique because the villagers have made their homes within the caves, equipping each with electricity, running water and plumbing. Conically shaped, the unusual cave formations were formed from compressed volcanic ash and debris that spewed forth from Mt Sahand – now an extinct volcano – thousands of years ago. Since then, the cave dwellers have added windows, doors as well as carved stairwells and porches. Each dwelling ranges from two to four storeys high and usually comprises living quarters, a storage area and even a shelter for livestock. The community is made up mostly of farmers and herders – selling dairy products, meat, wool and honey for a living – though tourism income has been on the rise since a cave hotel opened in 2007.
Legend has it that Kandovan’s first inhabitants moved here centuries ago to escape the invading Mongol army. In this unique village, the homes are not just built on the mountain, they are carved into it. Built out of volcanic ash and debris spewed during an eruption of Mount Sahand, these rocky structures were compressed and shaped by natural forces into cone-shaped pillars containing pockets. They have been eroded by the elements over the years into their current shapes.
Local residents say that the homes are not only strong but also unusually ‘energy efficient’: These homes require minimal supplemental heat during the long cold season and remain cool in the summer. 'Kando' means 'a bee’s hive’, and this is how Kandovan got its name.
Tourists can reach Kandovan from the neighboring towns of Osku and Tabriz, whether they are traveling by car or bus. You can also visit Kandovan village as a part of our packaged tours or we can simply arrange a day tour for you from Tabriz.
To visit Kandovan:
Please see our amazing Silk Road tour where Kandovan village is also a part of the package:
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