Kandovan, an ancient village in Sahand Rural District of Osku County, East Azerbaijan Province, Iran, is a hidden gem nestled in the foothills of Mount Sahand. Known for its incredible manmade cliff dwellings, Kandovan is not just a tourist attraction but a living, breathing community.
Kandovan: A Village Carved in Time
Kandovan’s troglodyte homes, known locally as Karaans, are excavated inside volcanic rocks, reminiscent of Cappadocia in Turkey. These unique structures were formed from the erosion of non-welded ignimbrites or “ash-flow tuffs” of Mount Sahand. Over time, water erosion sculpted these cone-shaped cliffs, creating a landscape that’s both fascinating and functional.
History and Development
Mount Sahand, a silent volcano, played a crucial role in Kandovan’s formation. The original inhabitants were nomads who temporarily settled in these rock dwellings, which later became their permanent homes. Notably, during Mongol invasions, residents of the nearby Hilevar village moved to Kandovan for its defensible position.
Today, Kandovan is home to about 800 residents who speak Azerbaijani Turkish. While maintaining its traditional charm, the village has adapted to modern needs. The primary occupations include agriculture, animal husbandry, and handicrafts. Interestingly, despite its proximity to the modern city of Tabriz, Kandovan has preserved its simple, original lifestyle.
What Makes Kandovan Famous?
Kandovan is renowned for its incredible rock architecture, a result of volcanic activities from Mount Sahand. It’s one of the few rock villages globally where life continues as it has for centuries. Additionally, Kandovan is famous for its pure, mineral-rich spring water.
Location and Accessibility
Located 65 kilometers from Tabriz, Kandovan is easily accessible by car, taking about an hour to reach. The village sits on the western slopes of Mount Sahand, offering a picturesque landscape.
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Amenities and Activities
Don’t let Kandovan’s rustic appearance fool you; the village is well-equipped with modern amenities. Visitors can enjoy photography, nature walks, and learning about local lifestyles. Kandovan offers a range of facilities including restaurants, supermarkets, and even a medical clinic.
Travel Tips for a Memorable Visit
For a hassle-free experience, travel light to Kandovan, as the village has all necessary amenities. It’s advisable to avoid traveling in autumn and winter due to potential road conditions. If you do travel during these seasons, ensure your vehicle is well-prepared for snowy conditions.