Well, I can assure you that even on the hottest day of summer, this little wonderland has the power to freeze you.
Let me take this moment to mention that we visited Kandovan on Christmas eve! Did we freeze to death? Yes! Did we look like we have lost our minds? Yes! Did we almost lose the sense in our cells? Yes! Do we regret visiting Kandovan in winter? No!
The truth is, I would do it again, with the kind of madness that makes visiting Siberia in December quite rational. Kandovan is crowded in the summers. It has the perfect air to be in while other places are burning like hell. In the winter, however, you can find peace.
There is a moment, when you reach the top store of the rocky houses –assuming you haven’t torn yourself apart or breaking your hip on the slippery snowy way up – that you see the bigger picture. One image that makes that life-threatening effort, worthy.
The presence of mineral water, unique houses, lush valleys, pleasant climate, dairy products, and high-quality mountain honey, attracts a large number of travelers from everywhere to this village. Kandovan is not any usual village. It’s a wonderland. So follow the white rabbit!
If you continue Tabriz to the west, you will reach the village of Osku. After 18 km, there you will see that promised land. A small village called Kandovan or in the Azeri language Doqan.
Kandovan is one of the wonders of the times. A village dug in the heart of the mountain. If we want to study it scientifically, Kandovan has merged because of the volcanic interactions of Mount Sahand. Volcanic molten masses and lavas have been formed and bounded by wind, snow, and rain over thousands of years. Kandovan is located at the foot of this tough volcano in East Azerbaijan Province. It has a cold and mountainous climate, and most of its slopes are very high.
Such a design and shape in nature, manmade cliff dwellings, has been seen only in two other places in the world. One is Cappadocia in Turkey and the other is in Dakota, USA. What makes Kandovan unique is that this village is still inhabited. These people spend their days in small rooms in the shape of sugar canes and send their animal and natural products for sale to other cities.
In the heart of Mount Sahand high hills, there stand hundreds of rock houses, rock barns, and rooms, which are very spectacular. Rock was the only material use to build Kandovan. They dug the rocks out. That is why it is called the Kandovan.
In ordinary architecture, gypsum, lime, and clay are the main building materials, while in cliff dwellings and rock architecture, the desired space is revealed inside the rock mass and the stone. These rocks are like a cover; once dug from the middle they open up space.
Guava mineral water also boils from the depth of one of the hills of this Kandovan. It is very famous and is very useful for kidney diseases. Livestock, agriculture, and horticulture are the main activities of the people of this village.
Drainages are often located along sidewalks and outside of the borders of the houses and residential environments, although families do have a common drain. Basins often have several seating areas and storage depending on the slope of the land.
Due to the thickness of the borders, it is very difficult to create skylights on the lower floors. So, skylights are often located on the upper floors. The windows are made of wood, often checkered, with small pieces of glass embedded in them.
Managing to set water pipes and bring electricity into the houses and small stores shows the capability to live through the hard and stiff situation but still coexist and cooperate with mother nature.
Kandovan village has a mosque, bath, school, and a mill and the border of the mosque is one of the largest borders of the village.
The rocky nature of this interconnected mountain range and the narrow passage between them have a long history. Some of which date back to 7000 years ago. Archaeologists have mentioned that the base of these villages belongs to the pre-Islamic age of Iran’s history.
Some say that the first people to set foot in Kandovan were the inhabitants of another nearby village called Hilavar. This Hilavar is also one of those residences that would make you wonder! They lived underground.
In the 7th century AH, when the Mongol invasion threatened Iranians, as one of their destructive troops marched toward Tabriz to kill the Shah of Iran, the inhabitants of Hilavar migrated to the feet of Mound Sahand and over time dug into the rocks built a haven.
Kandovan is covered with snow in fall and winter. No one visits Kandovan. Only The villagers come and go to Osku from Kandovan for economic reasons. So be prepared to be pointed out as you visit Kandovan in winter. Don’t worry, though the weather is cold and the mountain is harsh, the heart of the villagers is as warm as the sun. They’ll have your back.
Some residents have turned their small rock houses into shops, or a sort of hostel. Honey and grape extracts are two important products that Kandovan produces well and even exports. Local women also contribute to the economy of the family by embroidering local clothes, slippers, and vests that are very suitable for cold weather.
The connection of the upper floors of the borders with the outside is provided by very beautiful stairs from the body of the border itself. The ground floor is mostly stables and the second, third and fourth floors are used as residences. In some cases, the fourth floor has also been used as a warehouse.
You have to be able to cope with the high stairs of the village. These stairs, which could get very slippery and dangerous in winter, are the only way to go around the village.
If you manage to get the hand of these steps and go high enough, from one roof to the other, you will find yourself face to face with the limitless sky, fresh unpolluted air, and above all harmony.