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August 17, 2008 | By: admin
Kandovan Cave Homes

In the north east of Iran on the border with Azerbaijan is a mountainous province, called…. Azarbayjan. At the foot of Mount Sahand in Kandovan, the villagers live in cave homes carved out from the volcanic rock.
The houses are of two to four storeys; the ground floor is used for animals, the first and maybe second floor as well, are used as living areas, whilst the top floor is used to store things.

Most houses face south so residents enjoy sunlight during the day. The houses have windows with decorative glass. It is said that the houses have an “air circulation system that keeps the homes cool in summer and warm in winter”, but I suspect it is the great thermal capacity of the whole mountain rock that is doing the work. Nowadays the houses have electrical connection, water piped in and even waste plumbing.
The Sahand is well known for its spring-water which is believed to be able to cure diseases. A river runs through the valley in the village, providing water for the agricultural terraces and animal husbandry.


The present inhabitants of Kandovan record its history back to the Mongol invasion of Persia in the 13th century when a group of settlers escaped to the village. But the cave village could have existed even before that time. It could be likely...

“given the complex agricultural terracing which covers the steep-sided valleys around the Mount Sahand. Assyrian war annals of the 8th century BC mention towns in the vicinity of Mount Uash (the Assyrian name for Sahand volcano) and these population centres would have required considerable agricultural produce which must have been eked out of the volcanic soil clinging to the slopes of Sahand.”

David Rohl


Back to the present era, People in Kandovan now “mostly live on their income from selling dairy products, meat, wool, honey, handcrafts and dried vegetables”. About 300,000 people visit the village each year.

A relatively recent addition to the village is a 5-star Cliff Hotel dug out from the rock.


Hotel info:Tel: +98 412 - 3230191 Fax: +98 412 - 3230190

Watch a slideshow of Eliza Tasbihi’s photos at Flickr.

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