It is an ancient village located in east Azerbaijan province, Iran.

Kandovan has a very gorgeous natural beauty with a stunning view which is among the unique tourist attractions for its architectural design.

This settlement is unique because the villagers have made their homes within the caves, equipping each with electricity, running water and plumbing.‘Kando’ means ‘a bee’s hive’, and this is how Kandovan got its name. This village exemplifies manmade cliff dwellings which are still inhabited by 670 people. The architectural history of Kandovan dates back to the 13th century.

 

It has been said in the history of Kandovan that the first group to settle in the region were residents of a village called Hilevar, 2 km away from Kandovan. They migrated to the area escaping from Mongols and started to carve the Karaans to build themselves a safe refuge.

Most of the houses are two to four stores high.These homes require minimal supplemental heat during the long cold season and remain cool in the summer. Kandovan really is a popular tourist attraction.

The beautiful spas of the village are an excellent place for patients with renal problems to enjoy a natural therapeutic experience. Besides, the silence and tranquility of the mountains along with the clean air draw numerous artists to the spot every year.

 

The fruitful plains of the region provide nomads with a possibility to breed honey bees and grow medicinal herbs, both sources of income for the locals. Handicrafts such as weaving of Kilims, and colorful scarves is among the occupations of Kandovan women.

The village has a mosque, public bath, school, and a mill. The mosque Karaan is one of the biggest karaans of the village.

The Interior of the Karaans (natural rock rooms) is neat and simple. Each contains rooms, depending on the owner’s wealth, decorated with niches, curtains, and cushions (Persian: Poshti). Houses have several stories; the first is for animals and the rest for the family to live in.

With such genuine historical continuity, you would assume a UNESCO World Heritage listing is in place. However, UNESCO has some “issues” with Kandovan. There’s some angst about the contemporary stone and brick additions to Kandovan, as they’re not part of the “original” fabric of the cave village. UNESCO sees these structures as a problem that needs resolving, prior to Kandovan being admitted onto the World Heritage register. On the other side of this UNESCO story, are the people of Kandovan. They’ve carved-out not only their own domiciles, but also make a seemingly viable living from the tourists that do make it here, with locals earning a Rial or two via restaurants and locally hand-made tchotchkes.

 

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