Want to pack a bag and visit the most beautiful villages in Iran? Far away from towns, cities, and their alluring skyscrapers lie the serenity and ataraxic embrace of Mother Nature in the villages. Standing still as the lifeblood of a country, villages are the birthplace of people with flowing rivers of love, devotion, and intimacy out of their hearts. Speaking of villages in Iran brings along natural and architectural wonders hidden in twisting alleys lined with trees on both sides. Becoming sick of the crowd and noise of cities, people are spending some hours seeking peace and discovering natural beauties, historical and architectural significance in the heart of villages. There are hundreds of villages in Iran that are labeled as “tourist attractions” and here’s a shortlist of fascinating ones among them:
If you drive a picturesque path of 60km southwest of Rasht passing through the emerald tea leaves, you’ll end up seeing one of the strangest villages built on a mountain steep. Why strange? The architecture of this village combined with the magical scenery of mountains and jungles surrounding it is just awe-inspiring. The old stepped village of Masouleh has been uniquely built on a steep mountainside. It is so that the roof of each house serves as both courtyard to the one above, and the pathway for people to walk on. This stair-type of architecture will carry your soul to heaven with its flickering and fairy lights heading up at the night’s misty sky. Located at an altitude of 1050m, Masouleh will also take you by surprise in winter with the stunning sight of a thin layer of soft powdered snow beyond a wisp of smoke coming out of the chimneys. People living in this village are as warm as the colors of the scarves they wear.
Somewhere among the lush green nature of Kerman province lie the residential hand-dug rocky village of Meymand that is one of the most ancient places in Iran registered in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The rocky village of Meymand is one of those villages that induces the thought of people living in caves within first glance. Stepping down there into the troglodyte houses of friendly local people will convince you to stay a night or two in those caves. However, a night or two won’t be enough if you are interested in the lifestyle of these people and finding out their secret in keeping peace with nature. This rather arid area grants you an authentic experience of discovering about human life in caves by its stone engravings belonging to about 10,000 years ago.
Can you imagine living in the cone-shaped remains of volcanic eruptions? Kandovan is an ancient rocky village carved into volcanic rocks of Mount Sahand that lets you experience living in the attractive troglodytic houses of the locals. Located at about 60km southwest of Tabriz, the image of this village, as you approach it, provokes the idea of how living in a hive could be like, just as the meaning of the word Kandovan (hives) suggests. The sight of the picturesque nature of this village accompanying the pleasing sound of water streaming down the hills after trekking or hiking the exhilarating trails on the mountain will soothe your soul. What attracts the tourists more than anything is the mysterious structure of cones, how they have been tucked through thousands of years when the volcano was active. And how people have erected two or three-story houses with different sections and peculiar tunnels in between.
Is red your favorite color? Do you like to experience living in a place where the soil and houses are all in red? Not painted, but the naturally red village of Abyaneh is located 40km northwest of Natanz in an altitude of 2200m. The reddish hue of the clay and adobe used in the architecture of this village invites a significant number of native and foreign tourists to walk alongside the river and find out about the culture and patterns in colorful clothes of the local. Although the village has a few numbers of permanent inhabitants, long white headscarves and traditional clothes worn by the women living there, and the Middle-Persian-speaking elders indicate the commitment between these people and their historical heritage. After all, Abyaneh will take you back in time.
How about going up winding roads of the stepped village of Uraman Takht? Yes, the architecture of this famous village located in Kurdistan province is very much similar to that of Masouleh. But what is unique about this village is the historical stories and mysteries buried among the cliffs. The first ancient story lies in the name of village referring to the throne of Ahura Mazda, and you can visit the remains of Sassanid fire temples found around the village. Traveling to this village gets more adventurous, taking into account the fact that archaeologists have discovered tools belonging to Neanderthals in a cave around the village. The tumultuous sound of water streaming down the valley, the astonishing nature of Zagros mountain range, and the cultures and customs of the residents are just spellbinding to the eyes of both native and foreign tourists.
Are you after a different experience of a historical place? Known as the place where the sun rises, Kharanagh is an old abandoned village that features the unique beauty of the desert. The village mainly functioned as a resting place for the travelers passing the Isfahan–Yazd road with its Caravanserai. But now it’s one of the must-see villages in Iran, particularly among foreign tourists. It’s just perfectly quiet to take you far away from everything else, a real detachment. You can take your time watching the starry nights, walking on the ruins, taking stunning photos of the sunrise while you’re walking on the bridge, or go up the stairs in its minaret. This village can also offer adventure since it’s been deserted; it can be very frightening in its narrow paths at night.
Up in about 2600m above sea level, not so far from Kelardasht, the ground is covered with oak trees, and there’s an ocean of white clouds right in front of you. The scene is just spectacular in all four seasons giving you no chance to put your cameras down. Just imagine spending a night in your tent in the highlands of this rural area and waking up with the chirping sound of birds in a foggy morning. It’s a must-see if you’re up to travel to the north of Iran! The sweet people of the north are very welcoming with big smiles the colorful clothes. This is where you can’t stop admiring and adoring the beauty and serenity of Mother Nature.
Standing between the mountains of Kan district in the west of Tehran are the lesser-known villages of Vardij and Varish. However, the distinctive feature of them lies in the human-shaped rocks of the villages. Many residents of Tehran have a house in these villages to spend their weekends here climbing the stone ghosts of the village. The gradual erosion of the rocks by the wind has made big giants with human-like skulls, and lots of people find these stone ghosts photogenic. If you’re not interested in rock climbing, you can enjoy the natural beauty of these villages. The Lat Mal waterfall hidden in the rocks is another tourist attraction found in Vardij; you can meditate with the quiet sound of water flowing down the rocks.
You can’t skip visiting the castle-like village of Nay Band if you’re up to seek the allures of Dasht-e Lut desert. Just imagine going up the cliffs in this village and taking a glance at the sun while it’s sinking in the ground behind the wheat fields dotted with palm trees. Houses are densely built on a small mountain and the village is encircled by the farms and gardens of palm trees in the lower levels of the ground. So that it looks like petite heaven in the middle of the desert. What grants life to this beautiful miniature village at the heart of the desert is the spring waters flowing in it.
Spread over a canyon with a river in between and houses standing on each other like giant stairs on both sides of the valley; Here’s a small description of the Kurdish village of Palangan. This village grants you an authentic experience of breathing in nature itself. The people are committed to the Kurdish culture and customs here and wear those types of clothes that tell the story of their history. They are so kind and warm-hearted and will invite you to their houses. There’s a lot to see and don’t forget to try the fish kebab served in the restaurants near the river. The village is eye-catching when the dark comes, and the lights of houses glow perfectly on the slopes of mountains.
Do you like to step in clouds? Filband is the real heaven on earth since whimsical clouds surround it. The place suggests a real detachment from city life and invites you to the exceptional performance of fluffy clouds dancing with the gleam of sunshine. You get to see the simple lifestyle of people in a wholly different way among the unspoiled unique landscapes of this village. Pack your bags and don’t forget to get warm clothes with you as it’s one of the chilliest regions in Mazandaran province.