5 Cave Villages You Can Visit Around the World

See recent posts by Stefanie Waldek

Since the days of, well, cavemen, humans have been using these natural formations as shelters, and for good reason. Caves provide protection from the elements, but they also are natural insulators, typically maintaining comfortable temperatures year round, making for a comfortable home. Some populations have developed caves into much more than simple shelters, using them for entire villages. Here, we take a look at five such cave villages that you can visit around the world.

1. Matmata, Tunisia

Courtesy of Flickr/Panegyrics of Granovetter

Courtesy of Flickr/Panegyrics of Granovetter

Like many others trying to escape the arid desert heat, Tunisians living in the village of Matmata went underground. The town’s claim to fame is the Hotel Sidi Driss, which was used in “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope” as Luke Skywalker’s home on Tatooine. The troglodytes here start as deep pits, and then builders carve into the pits’ walls to create rooms. Note that the U.S. has issued a travel warning for the southeast region of Tunisia near Libya as well as the mountains in the west due to the threat of terrorism.

Where to Stay on Djerba Island, a resort destination a three-hour drive from Matmata:

2. Kandovan, Iran

Courtesy of Flickr/Andrea Taroni

Courtesy of Flickr/Andrea Taroni

Reported to have been established some 700 years ago, the town of Kandovan in northwestern Iran still has over 600 residents, many living in troglodytes, or cave dwellings, today. The structures, here, have been carved out of hardened volcanic ash from the dormant Mount Sahand volcano.

3. Göreme, Turkey

The Cappadocia region of Turkey is perhaps the most well known areas of the world for cave dwellings, with Göreme being one of the most famous. The village is set in a valley defined by “fairy chimney” rock formations, and as such, many structures are actually built into the earth. The village today has about 2,000 people living in it, and might have been inhabited as early as 1800 B.C.

Where to Stay in Göreme:

4. Grotta Mangiapane, Sicily


Unlike the first two cave villages on this list, Grotta Mangiapane is housed in one single cave in Sicily. While paintings inside the cave indicate that it might have been inhabited for millennia, the village as it stands today was established in the early 1800s. It was abandoned in the 1950s, but volunteers have restored it and maintain it as a museum.

Where to Stay Nearby in Sicily:

5. Guadix, Spain


Breaking up the hilly, rocky terrain in Guadix are whitewashed façades and chimneys, part of the troglodytes that are popular in the area. Early settlers learned hundreds — if not thousands — of years ago to retreat underground to avoid summer’s heat. Residents are also referred to as troglodytes (“trogloditas” in Spanish), and many are enthusiastic to show travelers their homes.

Where to Stay in Granada, a 45-minute drive or train ride away:

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