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Panoramic photo by Majeed Panahee joo PRO EXPERT Taken 16:10, 02/10/2013 - Views loading...

Kandovan Village Cave House East Azerbaijan Osku Rocky Home 03

The World > Asia > Middle East > Iran

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It is Kandovan, the stone village. Kandovan is a tourist village in Iran that is not only famous for its scenic beauty, but also its uniqueness that comes from the fact that many of its homes have been made in caves located in cone-shaped rock-formation. Thus making the complete village look like a gigantic termite colony.
Houses carved inside rocks are so peculiar; you would definitely want to visit them once. Some of these houses are at least 700 years old and still inhabited. Most of the houses are two to four storeys high. Legend has it that Kandovan’s first inhabitants moved here centuries ago to escape the invading Mongol army.
High in the northwestern Iran near Osku and Tabriz, the architectural history of Kandovan dates back to the 13th century. In this unique village, the homes are not just built on the mountain, they are carved into it. Built out of volcanic ash and debris spewed during an eruption of Mount Sahand, these rocky structures were compressed and shaped by natural forces into cone-shaped pillars containing pockets. They have been eroded by the elements over the years into their current shapes. Local residents say that the homes are not only strong but also unusually ‘energy efficient’: These homes require minimal supplemental heat during the long cold season and remain cool in the summer. 'Kando' means 'a bee’s hive’, and this is how Kandovan got its name.
Despite the village’s isolated nature, tourists from around the world can be found wandering in narrow streets, impressed by this old place. Those not necessarily wanting to stay in caves don’t have to worry about their stay - this rocky village has a five-star-rock hotel called Laleh Hotel. It is decorated with traditional Iranian furniture and is the third 'rocky' hotel in the world. This 40-room hotel is inspired by the traditional building methods of Kandovan. You will be amazed to have a bed, a TV room Kitchen and even Jacuzzi, all inside a rock.
Far away from pollution and noisy metropolitan cities, this stone village helps people relax. It makes us believe that cave living is by no means uncomfortable. A quiet place for those who are looking for peace and comfort.

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This panorama was taken in Iran

This is an overview of Iran

The Islamic Republic of Iran has been occupied since 4000BCE, making Iran home to the world's oldest continuous civilization.

It is located in central Eurasia on two ancient trade routes. One runs North-South and connects the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf, the other one goes East-West between China, India, Europe and Africa.

There's a city called Isfahan at the intersection of these two routes, which at one time was the wealthiest city in the world. Isfahan was twice the capital of the Persian Empire, during the Median and then Safavid Dynasties.

Interesting artifacts from pre-Islamic Persia include the cylinder of Cyrus the Great, which is the world's first written declaration of human rights. The hanging gardens of Babylon (one of the seven wonders of the ancient world) and the Code of Hammurabi (a set of rules which outlast the King) are also on the list.

The Persian Empire was so magnificent that returning Crusaders carried tales of its splendor and helped spark the Renaissance in Europe! Influence of the Zoroastrian teachings of equality also inspired Greek philosophers such as Aristotle and Socrates.

The Persian Empire was conquered by Muslim Arabs around 650CE during the Sassanid Dynasty. Initially the Zoroastrian, Christian and Jewish faiths were tolerated but by 1000CE most Persians had accepted Islam.

In the sixteenth century Shi'a Islam was declared in Isfahan to be the national religion of Persia and the second golden age began. From 1500 to 1720 the Safavid Dynasty built the greatest Iranian empire since before the Islamic conquest of Persia.

Because of its strategic location and oil resources, World War I found Persia in the middle of conflicts between the Ottoman Empire, Russia and the British Empire-via-India. Persia became Iran as of 1935 and was ruled by the Shah, a Persian term for "monarch."

In the Islamic Revolution of 1979 Iran re-established a theocratic government under the Ayatollah Khomeini.

Today the capital of Iran is the city of Tehran, and Iran is known as the world's center of Shi'a Islam.

Text by Steve Smith.

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