Kandovan: Iran's Jewel in the Rocks

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Iran's Kandovan with its many geographical and natural features is one of the most magnificent tourist attractions in the world.

The village which dates back to the time of the Mongol invasion, is located approximately 60 kilometers southwest of the city of Tabriz, adorning the northern slopes of a valley at the foothills of Mount Sahand.

The name Kandovan comes from the old term "Kandou jan". "Kand" meaning village and "Jan" meaning existence.

Kandovan's exceptional beauty lies in its fabulous 3000 year-old rocky settlements, which are carved into the mountain and are reminders of Sahand's volcanic eruptions from the early tertiary period to the early quaternary period.

Eroded by flowing waters, the stones have turned into cones. The troglodyte homes, carved into the rocks usually have two, three or four floors.

The first floor is used as a stable, the second and third floors as living areas and the fourth floor as a warehouse.

Windows are decorated with colorful glass and entrances are made of one single piece of rock, no more than 160cm high.

Most houses face southward so their inhabitants can enjoy sunlight during the day. They are cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

People in Kandovan mostly live on their income from selling dairy products, meat, wool, honey, handcrafts and dried vegetables.

A river flowing down Sahand peaks passes through the valley, creating a number of natural springs. These mineral water sources were traditionally used to treat various ailments.

Remains of similar rocky architecture can be found in Italy, Afghanistan, Greece, Peru, Latin America and China, but Kandovan is a rare example as it still serves as a human settlement.

A living example of human adaptation to exceptionally unusual natural surroundings, the scenic beauty of Kandovan attracts some 300,000 tourists every year.

Kandovan's five-star cliff hotel is the third of its kind in the world.

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