Sahand Mountain and Kandovan village
Sahand Mountain, which is situated in East Azarbaijan Province, northwestern Iran, is popularly known as the bride of Iran's mountainous regions due to the coverage of its foothills with pretty clematis flowers. The unique and beautiful nature of this Sahand Mountain foothill, which includes several springs and many plants, has led to the presence of a large number of eco tourists in this region throughout spring and summer seasons. The ski piste at Sahand Mountain's altitudes; mineral water ponds; and a green valley throughout the foothill have complemented the natural beauties of this region. The Village of Kandovan in this region attracts thousands of tourists, every year.
This historical and cultural village is situated fifty kilometers southwest of the city of Tabriz, on the foothills of Sahand Mountain. After passing through a green valley, and a river that flows across the valley, we arrive at the mountainous region of Sahand, which is home to the historical village of Kandovan. The architecture of the homes of this village is unique and in fact these homes are large cavities and chambers which have been dug in rocks. The lavas which have erupted from the Sahand Volcano and other volcanoes throughout thousands of years have created a layer of stone. Gradually, with the passage of time, natural factors, such as winds and rainfalls have hollowed the softer parts of the masses of stone, while the rugged crests of the stones have remained to this day. This phenomenon has led to a major change in this region and has created chambers at the heart of rocks, which have become the places of residence of the villagers. It seems that throughout the Mongols' barbaric attack, almost seven centuries ago, while the people of surrounding villages were seeking safe havens, they have gradually sought shelter in these cavities and chambers. In this manner, the villagers safeguarded their own lives from the onslaught of foreign forces. They found comfort in settling in these chambers, in the face of hot or cold weather conditions across the year.
Kandovan is one of the three villages which have been shaped at the heart of rocks, worldwide, which has brought about its unique beauty. The astonishing architecture of this village and the settlement of rural dwellers in the ancient fiber of this village are considered as an exceptional phenomenon which has drawn the attention of the international community. The two other similar villages, which are situated in Turkey and the US, are not inhabited and tourists only visit empty houses. A number of archeologists believe that the age of this village dates back to pre-Islamic era. At the heart of these high hills, which at times are 40 meters in height; sheepcotes, store houses, and chambers have been dug which are fascinating. The tourist attraction sites of this village are such that the advisors to International Tourism Organization have named them as global wonders.
This village has a mosque, public bathrooms, a school and a mill. The chamber which houses the mosque is one of the largest in its kind. The bases of these chambers dug in rocks are wide, and the upper we go, the width of these chambers shrinks. In contrast to other villages, the places of residence of these villagers extend to three-storey and four-storey chambers.
The lower floor is usually the sheepcote, while the second and third floors are the places of residence of villagers. Among the four-storey chambers, the last floor is used as the warehouse. These chambers are connected to each other from the outer region and despite the restriction of the inner space, maintain appropriate living conditions. For instance, on the sidewalls of the chambers; shelves have been formed for placing lamps, mirrors, books, and other items. In some of these chambers, hooks have been installed at the ceiling for hanging lamps.
In Kandovan Village, the chambers' gateway is next to a small pond made of cement, which is separated from the main room with a small wall and is the place for washing clothes, dishes, and bathing. Currently, this village maintains pipelined drinking water.
At the body of chambers, appropriate cavities have been dug for maintenance of the villagers' everyday needs. In some of the chambers, there exists a low-altitude stone-made platform which is covered with carpets or rugs and is used as the resting place of the family members. Due to insulation of the chambers' walls, outer air doesn't penetrate inside and therefore chambers are cold in summer and relatively warm in winter.
Many of these chambers are warm in winter and are directly exposed to sun rays. Due to thickness of the walls, the gateways to these chambers are usually short and don't extend 160 centimeters in height. The doors' width is one meter to 120 centimeters. To prevent the infiltration of snow flakes and rainfall, the doors and windows are made in the inner side of these chambers.
The appropriate regional climate has led to fertility of the lands of this village and the best farmlands of Kandovan village are situated in a high-altitude plain, which is situated in front of the village. The green valley of Kandovan maintains one of the best climates of mountainous regions across Iran. A relatively large creek runs through this valley, which is also home to several mineral water ponds. The Kandovan's mineral water is used as a remedy for many ailments and it is said to be effective in dissolving kidney stones. Also the green meadows of Sahand Mountain are used as important animal husbandry hubs. This village is also known for its premium dairy products and honey.
The population of this village stands at 700 people, while villagers are farmers, or engaged in animal husbandry and production of handicrafts. The most famous handicrafts of the villagers are carpets and rugs which are woven by women. Also the women villagers dry vegetables and plants such as nettle, selling them at the village's market. Medical herbs, honey, walnut, and almonds, in addition to handicrafts are the souvenirs of this village.
It can be said that the unique architecture of this village and its surrounding scenic landscape has created a world of beauty. The multiple, double, and cone-shaped chambers dug at the heart of rocks have created a pretty scene. In fact, this village has been registered among the national works of art for its unique architecture and fiber.
Mineral water springs, unique homes, green valley, appropriate climate, and premium dairy products and honey draw the attention of several tourists to this village in spring and summer seasons, and the presence of a hotel dug at the heart of rocks in this village raises an opportunity for the tourists to experience comfort, and to reconcile with the nature.
East Azarbayjan Houses
East Azarbayjan Bridges
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