Kandovan Village, Iran – photo essay and tourist information
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.
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.
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.
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.
Visiting Kandovan Village
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.
written by: Jon