Caves have been found in many regions of the world, and are part of human history. Some served as dwellings, others as places of worship; but, after they ceased to be inhabited, they fell into ruin. Certain areas of northern China cave dwellings still serve as homes for more than 40 million people. Incredible! In the meant time, let’s admire some of the most unique caves in the world together, shall we?
Considered to be the biggest maze of China, Guyaju is an ancient cave house located about 92 kilometers (57 miles) from Beijing. No clue or information exists about its origin, but we do know that the house was constructed within the craggy cliffs overlooking Zhangshanying Town. Over 110 stone rooms are found here, this being the largest cave dwelling ever discovered in China.
Matmata is a small village in southern Tunisia where local Berber residents live in traditional underground “troglodyte” dwellings. Constructed by digging a large pit in the ground and then, the caves are located around the perimeter. Even Luke Skywalker, his aunt and uncle Lars lived here; how’s that for popular?
Bamiyan in central Afghanistan is famous due to the two gigantic standing Buddha statues carved into the side of a cliff. At the time they were created, in the 6th century, these were the world’s tallest standing statues of Buddha; however, they were destroyed by the Taliban in March 2001, but the cave dwellings at the foot of the statues remain. They feature remains of painted frescoes.
7. Sassi di Matera
The Sassi di Matera are cave dwellings somewhere in the old town of Matera, Italy. There caves originate from a prehistoric settlement and are among the first human settlements in Italy; they were dug into the tufa rock and still serve as a home for some people.
6. Mesa Verde
Mesa Verde is home to the famous cliff dwellings of the ancient Anasazi people and possibly the most significant archeological preserve of Native American culture in the United States. Constructed during the 12th century, these houses are located along the canyon walls, with some as large as 150 rooms. By 1300, all of the Anasazi had left the Mesa Verde area, and this is all that remains.
5. Bandiagara Escarpment
The Bandiagara Escarpment is a sandstone cliff in the Dogon country of Mali; it rises 500 meters (1,640 ft) above the water. These cliffs are dotted with ancient cave homes of the Tellem people, which were meant for burying their dead. During the 14th century, the Dogon people drove out the Tellem and they remain the inhabitants of this area to this day.
Vardzia is a 12th century cave monastery and city carved out of a cliff overlooking a river gorge, somewhere in Georgia. The cave dwellings were constructed during the reign of Queen Tamar as protection from the Mongols. Over 600 apartments are part of a 13 story complex, with the city also including a church, a throne room, and a complex irrigation system watering terraced farmlands.
Located in Iran’s East Azerbaijan Province, Kandovan is a mysterious thirteenth century village. These homes have been made in caves located in cone-shaped, naturally formed compressed volcanic ash formations; most of the cave houses are two to four storeys in height. The most curious fact about this place is its resemblance to a termite colony.
The castle of Ortahisar is situated at a 86 meter (282 ft) high cave, Turkey. The castle has been used strategically and for accommodation throughout its history, although it has partly crumbled away revealing some of its interior. However, it has been restored and the peak is accessible by a staircase.
Uçhisar is situated at the highest point in the region, just 7km from Nevşehir, Turkey. The rock castle houses cave dwellings which used to be the most populated area of Uçhisar. However, people moved away due to the dangers of erosion. How could the leave that magnificent panorama behind?