One of the most enlightening trips I have ever taken was in 2000 when I traveled through Turkey. Every single corner of the country is absolutely breathtaking, and this includes the Turkish people themselves. No matter which part of Turkey I found myself in, the locals I had the pleasure of crossing paths with possessed a spirit of such genuineness, warmth, and inner beauty that I can honestly say I’ve never seen anything like it since. Perhaps the biggest highlight of the trip was my stay in the mindblowing volcanic mountain village of Cappadocia in central Turkey. A region steeped in history dating back thousands of years before Christ (to get an understanding of this area CLICK HERE), the residents have sculpted their built environment out of the porous sedimentary cone-like volcanic mountains that make up the geography of the area. If you ever get a chance to visit I can’t recommend it enough. I promise you it will be a memory you cherish for the rest of your life.
One of my biggest regrets of that trip was not taking a hop over to Iran. I’ve never forgotten one of my close friends in university, Goli, who came to Canada from Iran to get her Architecture degree. We talked a lot about Iran and it was the first time I had realized that everything I had come to know about the Iranian people had been a misrepresentation. Yes, there may be an autocratic dictator and theocracy in charge, but the Iranian people themselves are the most loving, warmhearted, and big-hearted folks on Earth, and she told me about the boundless beauty that is there to be discovered. From its gardens to its ancient villages, to its history, Iran is a treasure trove of amazingness. She also guaranteed I wouldn’t be able to walk 20-feet in any town without being pulled inside to a family’s dinner table to share in one of the best meals and goodtimes I would ever be fortunate enough to have in my life. I am determined to some day make it over there, and when I do I would love to take a detour through one of Iran’s volcanic mountain villages which looks very much like Turkey’s Cappadocia.
The Iranian village of Kandovan lies near the northern tip of Iran (very close to the eastern border of Turkey), and for the last 700 years its people have carved their homes and their lives into these compressed volcanic ash formations. At first glance you might think of them as claustrophobic spaces, but they actually can stretch for two-to-four stories in height inside. Porches, doors, windows, stairs, shelves, and furniture are carved into the rocks to create some of the most fascinating interior spaces on Earth. The porous volcanic ash is also a brilliant insulator, keeping the homes warm during the winter and cool during the summer. To learn more about the Iranian village of Kandovan CLICK HERE.