Hidden Gem Kandovan, Iran | Kandovan is a truly unique 700 years old village in the East Azerbaijan Province of Iran. Initially the first settlers must have fled up here to avoid clashes with those neck breaking Mongols that were sniffing out the area at that time. The settlement of Kandovan is an architectural oddity and exemplifies manmade cliff dwellings which are still inhabited. Homes, excavated inside volcanic rocks are somehow similar to dwellings in the Turkish region of Cappadocia, but much smaller. Hundreds of such fairytale estates were cut into the volcanic mudflow of nearby Mount Sahand. Cone forms are the result of lava flow consisting of porous round and angular pumice together with other volcanic particles. After an eruption of Mount Sahand these materials formed the rocks of Kandovan. The thickness of this formation exceeds 100m. According to a census in 2006 the population of Kandovan was 601 (168 families). Who wants to go to Iran? Any volunteers?
Believe it or not: Kandovan has a 5-star-hotel in the rocks, and it’s listed in TripAdvisor at staggering $400 per night! The reviews are quite positive. Rooms carved into the rocks are large. Bathrooms are definitely ok for western standards. Guests can enjoy large beds and comfortable amenities including a pool. The restaurant is unique and offers good food. Ok for a one-night stopover. Downside: unfortunately the village is not being protected from vandals and graffiti’s are all over.
How to get to Kandovan
You would have to make it to Tabriz first. Option #1: It’s a 1-hour-drive up from Tabriz to Kandovan. There is no regular bus commuting directly to Kandovan. From Tabriz take a minibus to Osku – a 30-minute ride. You find the bus stop next to Tabriz Railway station at Rah Ahan Square. An alternative option #2 would be sharing a taxi from Roghan Medun in Tabriz. Locals pay approx. 3000 Toman (= 30,000 Iranian Rial = 1 USD) for such ride from Tabriz to Osku. Tourists usually get ripped off. Taxi drivers tend to overcharge them asking for 10,000 to 15,000 Toman. Option #3: Hitchhiking. It’s definitely doable, just not sure if you are that kind of person. Once you made it to Osku, your best shot for the remaining 20km to Kandovan is a taxi or shared taxi.
Things to do in Kandovan
Apart from a nice scenic view there is not much you can do in Kandovan. The odd rock houses are explored within a few hours. You might also hunt for some local mountain herbs, dried fruits and honey that are sold in the village. That’s it. Moving on.
For more information on Kandovan including awesome photos, visit https://www.tourismontheedge.com/hidden-places/asia/kandovan-village-iran
Hidden Gem Kandovan. By Chili & Churp | © International Destinations | Visit our Travel Alphabet.