Kharānaq – Iran - Atlas Obscura


The tower in this 1,000-year-old mud-brick village seems to vibrate for no apparent reason. 


The clusters of mud-brick buildings in this village were built about 1,000 years ago. Their rounded shapes and rugged outsides make it look as though they’re all melting into the earth. The minaret towering above the mosque vibrates randomly, its slight shakes creating the illusion the architecture is somehow alive.

People have lived within the area where the abandoned village of Kharānaq stands for at least 4,000 years. Inevitably, buildings were constructed, modified, renovated, destroyed, and eventually built over. Sizable and diminutive buildings pile up side by side to form narrow alleyways.

A random stroll through these passages will likely lead to the mosque and the caravanserai. A spiral staircase climbs to the top of the minaret, but the vibrations can make the experience quite unnerving. The caravanserai and the structure has also been renovated.

As Kharanaq is perched on the slope of a steep hill, there are several vintage points that allow you to appreciate the beauty of the village and surrounding farming land. Not far from the village is an ancient bridge that farmers still use today.

The buildings are at different stages of decay and collapse. It is, therefore, paramount that caution be taken when walking through the alleys. Entering the buildings is a serious hazard, and higher floors and rooftops are likely to fall through under the weight of an average person.

Know Before You Go

A trickle of tourists has been pouring in, but Kharānaq still largely remains off the beaten path. As there are no facilities or information for tourists, a guide is handy but not necessary. Basic facilities such as shops and cafes can be found in the nearby new town.

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May 31, 2018

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