Kandovan Village, Iran – photo essay and tourist information

Kandovan, Iran (24) - header

Kandovan Village

Located 60km, and about an hour’s drive, south of Tabriz in the Eastern Azerbaijan province of Iran, lies the troglodyte village of Kandovan. Reminiscent of the more famous Cappadocia in Turkey, what makes this pretty little village so unique is the fact that the homes cut into the volcanic rocks and tuffs are still inhabited, and the friendly locals are more than happy to invite you into their homes for a look around.

Kandovan, Iran (12) - houses

The road to Kandovan winds up the slopes of the hills at the base of Kuh-e (Mount) Sahand through the bare and deserted Osku Chai valley. The village seems out of place with the more uniform surroundings and that only helps add to the wonder upon spying it for the first time.

Kandovan, Iran (10) - village

The houses, called ‘Karaans’ in the local dialect, are typically two to four stories high and were made by cutting into into the Lahars (volcanic mudflow or debris flow) of Mount Sahand. Local folklore claims that the village was founded 700 years ago by people fleeing the advancing Mongol invaders. However, archaeological evidence suggests that the caves have been inhabited for a lot longer, perhaps even reaching back as far as the Zoroastrian Medes and Persians three millenniums before.

Kandovan, Iran (8)

The interior of the dwellings are badly lit, but do offer heat in the winter and cool in the summer and have been adapted by the locals to match their lifestyles. Ground or first floors are used as animal shelters, whilst the higher levels are dedicated to living quarters and storage departments. Interconnecting corridors are low and pathways between the houses are paved with stones for the benefit of the animals as much as the human inhabitants.

Kandovan, Iran (16)

Visiting Kandovan Village

Price: Free
How to get there: From Kargar Blv. (near the train station) you can catch a minibus to Osku (US$0.50, 50 min). From Osku to Kandovan (25km) taxis cost about US$6 return plus US$1 every hour you force them to wait. Another taxi alternative is directly from Tabriz which should cost from around US$13 return per person. Alternatively you can try hitchhiking, take a bus from the train station towards Serdrud village, alighting just before the bus turns off the main road into the village. You can hitchhike from here but coming back may be a little bit of problem due to lack of traffic.


Kandovan village

written by: Jon

Trip sponsors

IMGEuropeLogowhiteFunky Leisure logoBrubeck LogoSpideroak logoICEPEAK LOGO Joe BrownSpecShop LogoDropMySite logo

You May Also Like


  • What a lovely place. Will definitely check it out when we hitchhike to Iran :)

  • oooh it wasnt quite as wintery when I went there, but it really is a special little place and very worth visiting!

  • Wow, what an incredible place to visit. Such interestingly built buildings- I love the photos inside. :)

  • Looks beautiful! But wait, you say visiting the place is free, but then you mention bus transport. Did you hitchhike there or paid for getting there? Looking forward to more stories about hitching in Iran, there are so many contradictory opinions about the easiness of doing it there.

    • We were lucky as our friends drove us there. If you want to hitch it, it would definitely be easier during the peak sewson as the traffick is scarse, but possible if you are prepared to wait for a long time. As for hitchhiking in Iran in general, we found it very easy. People are super friendly and always ready to help. The only difficulty is that they don’t understand hitchhiking and the private taxi system is prevailent in the country, which means they would expect to be paid. But as long as you explain at the beginning that you are not goging to, it will be fine. W3 learn a phrase “ma bedune pul safar mikonim” (we travel without money) and it worked perfectly!!