During our visit to Iran, we were very fortunate to have the friendship and guideness of Oxtay, who warmly welcomed us into his home and introduces to us the best of Tabriz and its surroundings.
This morning he had promised to take us to an unique place in the world, so in the midst of the excitement that produces the surprise, we ate a delicious breakfast typical of Iran and Azerbaijan which consisted of Sangak bread, goat cheese, honey, butter and home-made wild berries jam.
Once satisfied, we got on road with Oxtay and Mehran, driving around 60 kilometers to reach the place located in the West of Tabriz. Once on the site, we found a small uninhabited village made under the Earth. The place is called Hilavar.
History according to Oxtay says that the first people who lived in this place were peaceful shepherds, but unexpectedly had to flee and settle in the rock mountains located two kilometers away from here because they needed to protect themselves from the Mongol invasion.
After visiting this mysterious place and imagine how the daily life must have been in those places and in those homes, we turned to know the place in the mountains where people of Hilvar took refuge back then when they were threatened by the Mongols.
Just two kilometres away, we find these mountains of sand color that emerge in the landscape as bee hives. Dwellings are carved in the rock inside the mountain, which gives them a really fantastic appearance.
We walked through the cobbled streets as locals greeted us kindly. The stores on the road side offered attractive nuts, medicinal herbs, honey, almonds and rosehip brankces, as well as eye-catching hats, scarves, rugs and crafts handmade with local materiasl and first quality wool.
To admit us to the neighborhood we learned that Kandavan houses were built in the 7th century and the name of the place means something like “Beehive” in Persian. The original builders gave to the task of designing the structures so that they make use of the energy efficiently, which means that the houses need a minimum of heat during the winter and always remain cool during the hot summer.
Some houses are haveh 2 or 3 stories though the windows are small and the ceiling is not very high. Also, according Oxtay, the homes of the upper class of that time were in the low part and the lower classes lived at the top of the mountain.
Every year Kandavan has 300 thousand visitors and already counts with a mosque, a public bath, places to eat, a couple of 5 stars hotels and and other guest houses to rest.
A curious fact is that this site is the only one in the world in his style that is still inhabited, and many of the houses are more than 700 years old!.
This colony, carved in the rocks is a great place to enjoy something different and special, as well as being perfect for those seeking to relax with comfort and safety. Definitely a place to preserve in this beautiful planet!