Kandovan, Iran: Home of the Modern Cave-Dwellers

Photo: awayn.com

When most people think of living in caves, they think of prehistoric folks who didn’t have another option. However, did you know that some individuals still live in caves today by choice?

A small village called Kandovan in northwest Iran is home to a group of people who live in rock-hewn homes dating back roughly 700 years.

Kandovan is located in the province of East Azerbaijan. It has a unique geology thanks to ash and debris deposited by the Mount Sahand volcano.

Mount Sahand’s last eruption occurred 11,000 years ago. Roughly 10,300 years after this eruption, the residents dug into the ash left behind by the volcano to hide from the invading Mongolian army.

These caves have come a long way since the villagers first dug into them for protection. They now feature two-meter-thick walls that keep the interior cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Photo: en.wikipedia.org

If you ask Kandovan’s residents, they describe their homes as “Karan,” a Turkic word that translates to “beehives.”

Photo: en.wikipedia.org

Kandovan villagers have called these beehive-like cave structures homes for nearly a century. In recent years, they’ve also opened them up to tourists.

Visitors can book tours and explore locals’ real cave homes. Some residents even enhance the experience by selling souvenirs or offering traditional food and beverages.

Rentals are also available for those who want to go the extra mile and spend the night in a cave.

The five-star Kandovan Laleh International Rocky Hotel is another option if you can’t find a private rental. The rooms at this hotel are much more luxurious than the average cave. Each offers a jacuzzi, 24-hour room service, and breakfast — and they only cost $100 per night!

No one time is best for tourists to visit Kandovan Village. These caves can easily withstand various weather conditions and are accessible year-round.