Kandovan Village | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Kandovan Village

Sahand, East Azerbaijan Province, Iran

Amy Irvine

27 Jul 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Kandovan Village

Kandovan Village in North-West Iran is an historic cave-settlement, famous for its rocky architecture – the result of volcanic activities and hand-carved structures. Kandovan is still occupied (by approximately 117 families), making it the only inhabited cliff village in the world.

History of Kandovan Village

Kandovan Village was likely founded in the late 13th or early 14th centuries, though it’s thought these dwellings may well date back as far as the 7th century. Some researches of archeology even estimate the dwellings’ age up to 7,000 years old.

It is believed that the Kandovan caves were used as a place of refuge by people fleeing a Mongol invasion – as well as a safe shelter keeping the dwellings cool during summer and warm during winter. These inhabitants are thought to have decided to stay on permanently, turning the area into a settled village which is still occupied.

The cliffs have shaped hive cells which are also known as ‘Karan’. Every room of the cliff houses is carved out of stone, with earlier inhabitants making windows for the rooms and later decorating them with colorful glasses.

Kandovan Village today

Today, some of these dwellings are still in use and are made up of cone-shaped rock-formations which are truly astounding to gaze upon.

A visit to Kandovan is a must for anyone staying in Tabriz. In recent times, Kandovan has started to become a tourist destination and a few hotels and restaurants cater for the tourist trade. It is also possible to take a tour of the cave-dwellings for a small fee.

Getting to Kandovan Village

Kandovan is located on the mountain flank of Sultan Daghi, Sabalan Mountain, located in East Azerbaijan Province, Iran. The nearest city is Tabriz, the capital city of East Azerbaijan Province. Kandovan is approximately 34 miles from Tabriz (around a 1 hour 10 minute drive via Route 21), making it a great destination for a day trip.

It’s easiest to get here by car, but mini-busses to Osku, the closest town to Kandovan, depart from Railway Square in Tabriz (slightly far out from the main centre). From Osku, you’ll then need to take a taxi to reach Kandovan – a 20 minute scenic ride through rocky hills. Tours are also available.

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