Kandovan is a village in Sahand Rural District, in the Central District of Osku county, East Azerbaijan Province, Iran. This village is a wonderful example of manmade cliff dwelling which is still inhabited. in the 2006 census, the village population was 601, from 168 families, according to Aryazamin website. The troglodyte homes, carved into volcanic rock and ash to dwellings in the Turkish region of Cappadocia, are locally called “Karaan”. Karaans were cut into the Lahars (volcanic mudflow or debris flow) of Mount Sahand.
As you will see in the small movie below, this is a place where houses are not built on a mountain, but within a mountain. Another interesting aspect is the fact that the rock acts as an energy efficient material, keeping the house cool during summer and warm during winter. This is why most of the inhabitants here do not use heaters or air conditioning systems.
The intriguing architecture of this village seems to defy all rules and travelers are usually fascinated by its incredible slopes and irreverent paths. Recently a hotel was built, inspired by and connected to the “style” of the village. The “Rocky Hotel” features beautiful cave interiors with very comfortable living spaces. What we found interesting is that it takes ten months for four people to dig a room. Be sure to check out the video to see how these rooms look.
When you first come upon the houses, you might not notice them, as the stone used to expand the dwellings outside of the caves, mimics that natural color of the original stone. But once you get closer to the village, you can see the windows, power wires, doors, and chimneys jutting out of the rock face. Most communities have become modernized, with power and some even with running water, all while blending perfectly into the natural surroundings. The volcanic stone is both easy to manipulate and sturdy enough to support these ancient constructions.
Antiquity of this tourist village gets backs to 6000 years ago. Researches of archeology has estimated its age up to 7000 years old. What gives Kandovan an antique nature is presence of 117 families and houses inside rocky cone and pyramid-shaped masses in which villagers has made houses, corral, warehouse and workshops. Appellation of Kandovan is due to hive-shaped houses which have been embodied inside conical rocks. The properties of these houses are that the weather inside is warm in winter and cold in summer. About traditional architecture of Kandovan, some researchers and geographers believe that kandovan has no similar in Ian, and its architecture is rocky architecture. And they define that rocky architecture is much more important than common architecture from renovation aspect.
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Existence of tasty mineral water, unique rocky and conic houses, green valley, desirable mountainous weather, pleasant dairies and natural honey have made this village under attention of followers, together with sedative environment and evening silence and a graceful breeze.
The Tulip (Persian: Laleh) International Rock Hotel in Kandovan which is the third hotel of the kind in the world offers the tourist from all around the world the chance to have an enjoyable trip to the region.
The hotel is designed to have 40 Karaans (natural rock rooms), 10 of which are now available with complete room service and Jacuzzi. They are all equipped with heating system for the winter. In the summer the hotel does not need cooling system as the weather is very pleasant in Kandovan. A luxurious restaurant with a variety of Iranian and foreign dishes ready to host 120 people are among other facilities of the hotel. It is to be expanded by adding other 30 Karaans and more facilities such as commercial center, swimming pool, and parking. The project of Tulip hotel in Kandovan started in 2006 by Iran Tourism Development Corporation.
There are two other cliff villages with similar structures in Turkey’s Cappadocia and US’s Manitou Cliff Dwellings in Colorado. However, these two cliff villages are not inhabited and they leave Kandovan as the only inhabited cliff village in the world. Maymand Village in Iran, though, is another valley in cave dwellings carved out of the soft rock. There are sharp pyramidal cliffs with the holes on their irregular surfaces in this village which have been created due to volcano eruption in the summer region of the Sahand Mountain Range. The cliffs have shaped hive cells which are also known as Karan. Geographical studies show the cliffs ages range from 700 to 1500 years.
Tags:cliff villages, conic houses, Geographical, International Rock Hotel, Kandovan, Karaans, Laleh, Laleh Rock Hotel, Maymand Village, Rocky Hotel, rocky houses, Sahand Mountain Range, tourist village, unique rocky houses