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Masuleh, Iran

Masuleh

In this tiny Iranian town playing on the roof isn't just encouraged, it's the only place to go. 

Built right into the slope of an Iranian mountain, the small town of Masuleh has a unique, purpose-built architectural style where the front yard of each of the houses on the incline is actually the roof of the house below it, with roof-lawns trickling down to the base of the mountain. 

The tiny village has existed in the area for around 1,000 years and the strange stacked building tradition seems to have existed nearly the entire time. Looking almost like a clay-covered rendition of Brazil’s cramped favelas in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janiero, the communities of Masuleh make much better use of the space. Atop the roofs of many of the cascading houses, lawns have been planted and other traditional yard fixtures have been laid out by the tenant above who in turn is covered by the front yard of their upstairs neighbor, and so on. 

So tightly packed are the buildings that there is only room for a maze-like network of stairs and narrow roads connecting each of the structures. In fact automobiles are not allowed in Masuleh simply because there is no room for them.

The landscape surrounding Masuleh is lush and mountainous with a frequent covering of dense fog, so much so that many of the homes in the town are covered in bright yellow clay so they can be seen better through the haze. The natural beauty of the area attracts a number of visitors each year, but the town’s impromptu yard scheme doesn’t hurt.