Cave dwellings are present in multiple areas across the globe. As places of worship were often merged with surface structures, these caves served as dwellings. After modernization when people started living in cities, these caves were abandoned and slowly were devastated, just ruins were left. Although not all cave dwellings have been deserted, there are still few regions in North China where more than 40 million people reside in the cave dwellings. Sometimes during wars and refugee camps, these dwellings come to rescue. Let’s get an idea of the famous cave dwellings across the world.
1. Buddhas of Bamyan, Afghanistan
The sandstone cliffs resting in Bamiyan province of Afghanistan are very popular for the huge 6th century Buddha statues which carved on the rock. These were considered the largest in the world until the Taliban destroyed it in 1999. Together with famous as the Bamiyan Buddhas, there are two architectural creations which don’t fail to amuse both Buddhist and non-Buddhist visitors.
There is very less information about who originated the Bamiyan Buddhas or the sculptors who carved them. Anyhow, these caves are of high significance to the Buddhist community. The creators also dug some caves for meditation and retreat. Approximately 700 Afghan families who do not have any land and can’t afford proper housing live in these caves. These families lost theirs comes because of Taliban attack. It is one of the precious monuments that has been destroyed by War.
2. Vardzia Cave Monastery, Georgia
Vardzia is an astonishing cave monastery residing near Aspindza in southern Georgia. If you are Lord of the Rings fan, you will feel this as one of its sets. This underground monastery, home to many monks, was constructed in the 12th Century, as per orders of the first woman that was ever crowned as a king (not a queen!) known as King Tamar.
She got these monasteries built to help her people avoid the Mongol onslaught. These caves were secretly constructed under Erusheli mountain. Building these wasn’t an easy task but people’s hard work and the determination that their culture and lifestyle should not be destroyed by the invading Mongols made it possible.
3. Uchisar, Cappadocia, Turkey
Located at the topmost point in Cappadocia, Uchisar is hardly 5 km from Goreme. Standing on the top of the Uchisar Castle, one can experience the spectacular scenery of the enclosing region with Mount Erciyes in the distance. Rock was hollowed into to built multiple rooms that are commutable to one another through stairs, tunnels, and passages. Erosion has banned the access of several rooms in this multi-leveled castle. Most of the rooms are now used as pigeon houses from collect the droppings of pigeons which acts as an amazing natural fertilizer for the orchards and vineyards.
4. Kandovan, Osku, Iran
Kandovan is an exceptionally antique village located in the East Azarbaijan, Iran. This momentous place was built at least 800 years ago and is currently home to nearly 670 people. Travelers are often mesmerized by panoramic beauty. Believed to have been formed by volcanic remains from a strong Mount Sahand eruptions hundreds of years ago, the homes present here are carved inside rocks. Yeah, that’s correct, the houses are built inside the mountains. Surprisingly, the rocks keep the houses cool during summer and warm during winter.
5. Guyaju Caves, Beijing, China
Residing in a cloistered canyon in China, the Guyaju Caves are about 80 km from Beijing. It is the largest site of an ancient cave dwelling society in China. By visiting these caves, tourists can get to know about the culture and history of these communities. No one is aware of why and when these caves were built. Since the facts about these caves are still unknown, they tend to add a mysterious charm to these caves. Sometimes, it is referred to as the “biggest maze of China”.
6. Ortahisar, Ortahisar Castle, Cappadocia
Ortahisar is the apotheosis of Cappadocia’s agricultural soul. The town is named so, because of it’s uneven castles. Going downwards from the central square, properly constructed streets bordered by adorably worn stone-house ruins can be seen which leads to a chasm of pigeon house. Cave complexes can be seen while heading upwards. These caves still behave as inventory for citrus-fruit supply. Earlier been undiscovered and ignored by travelers, the tourism here is increasing rapidly from the past few years. Visiting Ortahisar is once in a lifetime experience.
7. Bandiagara Escarpment, Mali
Bandiagara Escarpment is a cliff composed of sandstone located in the Dogon country of Mali. It stands almost 1,640 feet tall above the lower sandy flats to the south and has a length of about 100 miles. The Tellem people lived in the escarpment till the 15th century, There are still many structures residue from the Tellem period. At present, it is home to the Dogon community. It has been declared as World Heritage Site, noting it as “an outstanding landscape of cliffs and sandy plateaux with some beautiful architecture.” Because of its geological and archaeological characteristics as well as its ethnological value, The Bandiagara site is considered one of West Africa’s most amazing places.
8. Sassi di Matera, Matera, Basilicata
Matera is a town nestled in a tiny canyon where humans have lived for millennia in cave dwellings. Sassi di Matera is basically two districts of the Italian city of Matera, Basilicata. According to Fodor, it is “one of the most unique landscapes in Europe”. It has been declared as World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1993. The Sassi are known to be among the first human settlements in Italy as per some evidence which proves that people were living here since 7000 BC. Its spectacular beauty attracts thousands of tourists.
9. Matmata, Tunisia
Matmata, a village located in the south of Tunisia, is mainly known for its cave dwellings. All over the world, there are several communities that traditionally reside in caves to prevent themselves from the heat, especially the ones based in hot climates. The same is the case with Berbers of Matmata. They were built by dredging a huge trench in the ground, and then on sides of the pit, they dug caves which are used as rooms. A lot of scenes Star Wars movies were filmed here.
10. Mesa Verde, Tunisia
Established in 1906, Mesa Verde National Park is meant to protect and interpret the archaeological legacy of the Ancestral Pueblo people who lived here for over 700 years, from 600 to 1300 CE. Today, around 5,000 archaeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings are being protected by the park. These are one of the most nicely preserved in the United States. This 40 miles beauty is a treat for the archaeologist and history lovers. A lot about Pubelo people can be extracted from these caves.
These are the top 10 famous cave dwellings in the world. Kindly share and do post your comments.