Monday, November 7, 2011

Kandovan: An Iranian Village Carved in the Rocks

Tucked away in the remote northwest corner of Iran is the village of Kandovan that is not only famous for its scenic beauty, but also for the unique dwellings of its residents. Many of its homes have been made in caves located in cone-shaped, naturally formed compressed volcanic ash formations that make the landscape look like a gigantic termite colony. Current residents of Kandovan claim that their village is more than 700 years old. It was created when those fleeing the advancing Mongol army took to the caves to hide. The homes are known as "karan" in the local Turkic dialect, a word that roughly translates as the plural of beehive.

Over the years, the people of the village have expanded their residences. Now, most cave dwellings range from two to four stories complete with living areas, a storage room and an animal shelter. Many have porches, windows, doors and stairwells carved into the rock. The caves are also some of the most energy efficient homes on Earth, with the rock providing adequate insulation to keep the interiors comfortable throughout the long cold season. The homes also remain cool in the summer.

If you wish to visit this unique village, it is located in Iran's East Azerbaijan Province, 60 km south of the provincial capital Tabriz in Osku county.

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