Kandovan: A Rockery Village you Must Visit

A Mesmerizing Journey Through Kandovan: Exploring the Enchanting Rockery Village

Kandovan village is a unique and picturesque village located near the city of Tabriz in northwest Iran. The village is known for its unique cliff dwellings houses that have been carved into the volcanic rocks. These houses have been inhabited for centuries and are a fascinating example of human adaptation to the environment.

The village is believed to have been established in the 13th century and has been continuously inhabited since then. The houses are carved into the tuff stone, a type of volcanic rock, and are connected by a network of narrow streets and alleys. The houses feature traditional Iranian architecture, with domed roofs and small courtyards. The village is also home to several historical sites and monuments, including a mosque and a traditional water mill.

One of the most striking features of the village is the unique way in which the houses have been built into the rock. The houses are carved into the tuff stone and are connected by a network of narrow streets and alleys. The houses feature traditional Iranian architecture, with domed roofs and small courtyards. The village is also home to several historical sites and monuments, including a mosque and a traditional water mill.

Kandovan Village
Step into the enchanting world of Kandovan village, where time seems to stand still.

Kandovan village is a popular tourist destination, and visitors can explore the village on foot, visiting the unique houses and monuments. There are also several local shops and restaurants where visitors can sample traditional Iranian food and crafts. The village is also located in a beautiful natural setting, surrounded by the towering peaks of the Sahand Mountains.

The village is also known for its hot spring, which is believed to have therapeutic properties. Visitors can take a dip in the hot springs, which are located in a natural cave.

The Unique Architecture of Kandovan Village Homes

The folks in Kandovan reside in spaces and homes locally referred to as “qeyeh” or “Karaan,” which translates to “rock.” The term “Karaan” is derived from the word “Karaandeh,” meaning to carve, shape, or hollow out, and it might even imply “limitless.” They craft cone-shaped dwellings inside the rock formations, adapting them based on the rock’s properties, creating living spaces within. These rock dwellings come in different types: paired, individual, cone-shaped, and even duplex-like, primarily constructed from lahar and ignimbrite rock. Some of these Karaans reach heights exceeding 60 meters.

Kandovan Village
Experience a true sense of tranquility as you take a leisurely stroll through the picturesque landscapes of Kandovan.

The earliest excavated Karaans, serving as residences, were located in the central part of the village, around the old central mosque. As the population grew and the need for additional living spaces arose, they began carving homes into the western and later the eastern rock formations. Interestingly, one of the initial marriage requirements for the youth was having a carved home, which would be provided by the groom’s family upon marriage.

The horizontal layout of these homes is mainly dictated by the natural rock formations. On the other hand, the thickness of the walls must be substantial to prevent the rocks from breaking, which limits the expansion of these homes. If there are too many floors, the structural integrity of the rock-based construction would be compromised. Therefore, the formation of these structures is heavily influenced by geographical factors.

The interior spaces of the Karaans, the number of floors, and their forms depend on the volume and shape of the rocks. Typically, they have two floors, but some Karaans have three or four floors. The ground floor is elongated, serving as a storage area, the first floor for living, the second for guest rooms, and the third as a storage space. Access between the floors of the Karaans is made possible through beautifully crafted stairs, and there’s usually no internal communication between different Karaans. Only one Karaan has an internal staircase connecting the ground floor to the basement (storage area). Due to safety and stability concerns, the dimensions of the Karaans are relatively small. When larger spaces are needed, such as for a mosque or a stable, slender columns are carved into the center of the Karaans to support the ceilings.

In general, a Karaan comprises the main living area, a “yuk yeri” (sleeping place), a kitchen, a “gozneh” (a box-like structure in the home), an entrance, a threshold, windows, and a water channel.

The architecture of Kandovan’s rock homes is a fascinating blend of necessity, local resources, and geographic constraints, resulting in a truly unique and beautiful living environment.

Architectural Marvels of Kandovan Village

The walls of these Karaans are solid, acting as excellent insulators. This unique characteristic ensures that the interiors remain cool in the summer and warm in the winter, with minimal heat exchange. Over time, the weaker parts of the Karaan walls have eroded due to heavy rainfall and regional winds, leaving behind only the sturdy, dense sections of rock.

Kandovan Village
Indulge in the warm hospitality of the locals, as you unravel the secrets of Kandovan’s hidden gems

Given the climate of the Kandovan region, the rocks used in construction possess remarkable durability, making the Karaans resistant to various environmental factors.

The presence of natural cavities within these cone-shaped structures suggests that during their formation, gases or air pockets within the volcanic material were released, resulting in large hollow spaces or the gradual disappearance of lighter materials due to natural forces, leaving behind substantial voids that serve as effective natural light sources and ventilation for the Karaans.

Most Karaans face south, and their arrangement alongside one another breaks the force of the wind. The people of Kandovan have ingeniously carved windows into the walls to prevent snow and rain from entering the Karaans. This practice also aids in creating depth and shading.

Kandovan Village

Because the Karaans are situated in the northern part of the village, the cone surfaces receive ample sunlight from the south. Prevailing winds typically blow along the length of the valley, which means from the east and west. These factors collectively contribute to the natural lighting and ventilation of the residential units in this village.

The majority of windows are also positioned on the southern side of the Karaans, allowing the structures to harness natural light and warmth throughout the day. There are no openings on the northern side. In the western Karaans of the village, the midday sun has deepened the recesses further.

The residents of Kandovan have constructed their homes on the first and second floors, designating the ground floor primarily for livestock. Additionally, by utilizing the ground floor or the basement for livestock, they benefit from the warmth generated in these areas, which helps heat the residential zones.

Another reason for not using the lower floors of the Karaans as living spaces is the absence of windows in these areas, rendering them inadequately illuminated. Furthermore, these areas lack proper ventilation, resulting in high humidity and the growth of algae.

Kandovan Village

In some of these homes, besides the regular rooms, balconies have been skillfully and meticulously crafted, extending outward in front of windows. These narrow doors and windows open onto these balconies. With great care, women place colorful flower pots on sections of these balconies, sometimes hanging garments to dry. These balconies take on varied and diverse forms, often mirroring the shape of the mountain they were carved from. These terraces are predominantly found on the southern facades.

The architectural wonders of Kandovan reflect a harmonious adaptation to the environment, skillful engineering, and a deep understanding of the local climate, resulting in remarkable, functional, and aesthetically captivating rock homes.

The Weather in Kandovan Village

Kandovan village sits at an elevation of 2,200 meters above sea level, making it a picturesque mountainous highland with a pleasant climate during the summer. However, come autumn and winter, Kandovan transforms into a chilly wonderland, with its residents experiencing nearly 180 days of icy conditions.

Kandovan Village
Embrace the simple pleasures of life, as you embrace the peaceful ambiance of Kandovan village.

This unique village boasts an elevation that provides stunning views and a diverse climate throughout the year. The local folks have learned to adapt to the challenges posed by this intriguing weather, making life in Kandovan both tough and captivating.

Occupations of the People in Kandovan Village

The livelihoods of the people in Kandovan are heavily influenced by the local climate and weather patterns. Due to the high elevation and the presence of snow throughout the year, gradually melting and creating natural pastures around the village, livestock farming has become a significant activity for the locals. Dryland farming is also practiced in the foothills and rugged terrain along the paths of the mountain springs. Additionally, gardening is another occupation pursued by the residents of this village.

Souvenirs from Kandovan Village

Mountain honey is one of the most prominent products of Kandovan. Dairy products, mineral water, walnuts, medicinal herbs, date syrup, grape syrup, honey, and almonds are some of the delectable treats you can take as souvenirs from this village. Additionally, the locals craft exquisite handwoven items such as carpets, rugs, and traditional headscarves, showcasing their artistic prowess.

Kandovan Village

Dried fruits are another specialty of the Azerbaijan region, with the bountiful climate in most areas of the province yielding high-quality dried fruit products. If you visit Kandovan in the summer, don’t miss out on the delightful seasonal fruits like apricots and plums.

During the Norouz (Persian New Year) festivities, there are often handicraft exhibitions held at the village entrance, showcasing the traditional arts and souvenirs of Kandovan. Batik printing, a unique art form from the Esko region, pottery, various woodworking crafts like carving, marquetry, and inlay, handwoven textiles like carpets and kilims, glassblowing, precious and semi-precious stones, local dishes, and dried fruits, along with the premium Kandovan honey and other regional specialties, can be found at these exhibitions, offering a wonderful opportunity for purchasing these unique items.

Attractions in Kandovan Village

The rocky architecture of Kandovan Village is the primary allure for tourists, captivating every beholder with its astonishing and breathtaking design. Apart from the captivating architecture, the lush and scenic nature with its enchanting landscapes adds to the beauty. The cool mountain climate, the presence of a flowing river, the surrounding highland areas, and the verdant orchards of the region contribute to the allure of this picturesque mountain village.

Kandovan Village

The mineral water spring in Kandovan possesses therapeutic properties, making it another compelling reason for travelers to visit this village. The water from this spring is classified as cold calcium carbonate water with a temperature of 10 degrees Celsius and minimal limestone content, making it highly beneficial for kidney patients.

Kandovan’s enchanting architecture combined with its scenic beauty and therapeutic spring provide a multifaceted experience that makes it a must-visit destination for travelers seeking both visual wonder and natural healing.

Kandovan in the Present Day

Though life still thrives within the rock-carved homes of Kandovan, over time, as the population increased, houses with different structures were built in the village, employing a combination of stone, mud-brick, and cement. In recent decades, new developments using modern materials like stone, brick, cement, and iron beams have taken place in the southern part of the main axis, near the village entrance.

Kandovan Village

Several reasons have contributed to these new constructions, impacting the appearance and character of Kandovan. These include the damp and less-than-ideal interior conditions of the rock-carved homes, the villagers’ inability to optimize the interiors of the “kran” houses, low water pressure for plumbing inside the “kran” structures, the distance from the main village entrance, economic considerations, and limited access to the river and the village spring. Most of these additions to the houses in the area were implemented after the Islamic Revolution.

Currently, several architectural factors threaten Kandovan’s unique charm. Factors like water infiltration, pressure, temperature fluctuations, and similar issues have led to the deterioration of the “kran” structures. An overwhelming number of tourists, lacking proper planning and infrastructure compatible with Kandovan’s fabric, have also caused damage to this historic and valuable rock village. These challenges have put the UNESCO World Heritage status of Kandovan in jeopardy.

Safeguarding the essence of Kandovan’s ancient rock architecture while accommodating modern needs and preserving its cultural heritage presents a complex challenge for the ongoing development of this remarkable village.

Where is the Village of Kandovan?

The village of Kandovan is one of the notable attractions in the province of East Azerbaijan, Iran. It is located approximately 65 kilometers southwest of Tabriz, and about 18 kilometers from the city of Osku.

This charming village sits in a valley alongside the Kandovan River. The village itself is situated on the northern foothills of Mount Sahand, with its western side characterized by steep cliffs, reaching a slope of around 70 degrees.

Route to the Village of Kandovan:

To reach the village of Kandovan, you’ll need to head to East Azerbaijan province and follow the road to the city of Osku. After passing through Osku and the town of Asfanjan, you’ll reach an intersection about seven kilometers along the road. Taking the left turn at this junction will lead you to the village of Kandovan.

If you’re traveling without your own vehicle, inquire in the city of Osku, and look for cars heading towards Kandovan.

Distance from Kandovan to Tabriz: Approximately 62 kilometers southwest of Tabriz.
Address of the Village of Kandovan: East Azerbaijan Province, 18 kilometers south of Osku city.

The Best Season to Travel to the Village of Kandovan

The village of Kandovan experiences cold weather during the fall, winter, and early spring, with a high amount of precipitation in this region.

Kandovan Climate
For a delightful visit to Kandovan, Iran, the ideal periods are the spring (April to June) and autumn (September to November) seasons. During these times, the weather is pleasantly mild, creating a comfortable environment for various outdoor activities.

Consequently, you may encounter heavy snowfall and freezing conditions during these seasons.

The optimal periods for exploring Kandovan in Iran are spring (April to June) and autumn (September to November). These seasons offer pleasant weather and comfortable temperatures, ideal for enjoying outdoor activities.

Accommodation in the Village of Kandovan

In the village of Kandovan, there are various accommodations where you can experience staying in the rocky houses and cone-shaped dwellings for a night or more. The locals also rent out their homes to travelers and tourists.

Here are some of the accommodations in the village of Kandovan:

1. Laleh Kandovan International Rocky Hotel: The third rocky hotel in the world and the first living rocky hotel globally.
2. Homestay Hama: Located next to the old school.
3. Homestay Molayi: Facing the old bathhouse of Kandovan.
4. Homestay Dariush: Located in front of the mineral spring.
5. Homestay Cyrus Ranjbar: In the Gileh Jan neighborhood.
6. Homestay Toural (Ahmad Riyasi), Homestay Aslani

Book Laleh Kandovan Hotel

The Cost of Traveling to Kandovan

The expenses for a trip to Kandovan can vary significantly depending on the price of hotels, restaurants, transportation, and visits to the village’s attractions. Nevertheless, regardless of one’s budget and preferences, a trip to Kandovan is sure to be memorable.

Transportation Costs

The distance from Tehran to Kandovan is approximately 670 kilometers, which takes about 7.5 hours by personal vehicle. Depending on your car type, fuel consumption, and use of air conditioning, the fuel cost for this distance would be around 120,000 Iranian Rials in the first half of 2022.

Kandovan Village

Due to the mountainous location of Kandovan and its limited size as a tourist attraction, there are no direct public transportation options to this destination. However, you can reach Tabriz by train, plane, or bus and then proceed to Kandovan by car or bus.

The bus ticket cost from Tehran to Tabriz is around 169,000 Iranian Rials, the flight ticket cost ranges from 880,000 Iranian Rials to over 2 million Iranian Rials, and the train ticket cost varies from 118,000 Iranian Rials to 270,000 Iranian Rials in the first half of 2022. The cost of travel from Tabriz to Kandovan (by bus or taxi) is approximately 60,000 Iranian Rials in 2022. Since Kandovan is a small village, you won’t need transportation within the village.

It’s important to note that prices can change over time, so it’s advisable to check the current rates before planning your trip.

5/5 - (6 votes)

Saye Shams

I specialize in creating customized tours for foreign clients who are visiting Iran and showing visitors authentic Iran. In terms of activities and knowledge, my strongest points are history, culture, and local lifestyle. I have also written some texts and created content about historical places and ceremonies, such as short video clips and podcasts, which would be an honor for me to share with others.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button