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12 Incredible Cave Cities

Featured — By Rachel Greenberg on September 8, 2011 at 10:01 am
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4. Coober Pedy – Northern Australia

Image: DuReMi/Flickr

The small town of Coober Pedy has 3 great things going for it. 1: It is the Opal Capital of the World; 2: It is the set location for 3rd Mad Max movie; and 3: It was used while filming Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Other than that, living there is pretty rough. Located in a desolate strip of land in northern Australia, temperatures hover at around 105 degrees Fahrenheit for most of the summer. Along with the sweltering heat comes 20% humidity. Not such a comfy place to live – especially since power to run air conditioning is pretty expensive all the way out in the middle of nowhere.

Image: DuReMi/Flickr

Image: DuReMi/Steel Wool/Flickr

To combat the insufferable temps the original opal prospectors in 1915 built underground homes, and to this day that’s how most of the town lives. One of the only modern additions? Chimneys that can be seen from above ground.

Since it’s become somewhat of a tourist attraction in the past 20 years, Coober Pedy offers a few underground hostels in case you’re dying to live like the locals.

Image: whale05/Flickr

5. Uplistsikhe – Eastern Georgia

Image: Lidia Ilona/Flickr

Located 5 miles from Gori, the city of Stalin’s birth, Uplistsikhe is an ancient town built into the soft rocks of eastern Georgia. Some structures have been dated all the way to the Early Iron Age, but Uplistsikhe really began to hit its stride in the Middle Ages when it was a major stop in the Silk Road. At its peak the city housed a population of around 20,000 residents who lived in 700 caves. Unfortunately in the 13th century, Mongol invasions left the city ravaged. Already weak, subsequent earthquakes struck soon after, which severely damaged the rock city and left it largely uninhabitable.

Image: masterplaan/Flickr

Image: masterplaan/Flickr

Today only around 150 caves remain, many of which have barely survived. One of the most incredible structures still left standing is the 9th century church of Uplistulis Eklesia. Although the church was Christian, it was built directly over a previously constructed pagan sun temple. No matter what your religious bent the views from the church are pretty darn incredible.

Image: SusanAstray/Flickr

Image: Mart Laanpere/Flickr

6. Yaodong in the Loess Plateau – China

Image: Next Stop Beijing

For centuries, inhabitants in the Loesses Plateau in northern China have been building their houses into the side of steep cliffs. Cave dwelling may seem like an ancient tradition, but recently Yaodongs have been praised for their eco-friendly construction and sustainability. Modern Yaodongs are constructed carefully with proper precautions, but this wasn’t always the case.  When the 1556 Shaanxi earthquake hit northern China, an astonishing 85K people died when their cave homes caved in on them.

Image: Clare’s Research Trip 2010-2011

Image: en.wikipedia.org

Today there is an estimated 40 million people who call Yaodong home including one famous former resident, Mao Zedong.

Tags: Afghanistan, Australia, cave dwellings, caves, China, Colorado, Georgia, Iran, italy, jordan, Mali, Petra, Tunisia, Turkey

    5 Comments

  • Christina says:

    I really loved Cappadocia. It was one of the most interesting places I’ve ever visited. Jordan and Tunisia are next on the list.

    • Kristina says:

      Tunisia and Jordan are two of the ones I have been to! I highly recommend both. Tunisia was absolutely brilliant since it’s off the beaten path for tourists.

  • Adam says:

    Nope, I have not been to any of them. I think I saw one of these on House Hunters International. I think I might need to add a few of these onto my must see list.

  • Andrea says:

    Petra is remarkabler. But I thought it has been determined the Treasury is a tomb for a family. There arte something like 700 structures. It takes days to see, and the entrance – the mile long Siq is the most dramatic gate to a city EVER.

  • Obiora Ugwuayi says:

    I love to receive mail on newly discovered places I can visit in adventure, I love adventure!

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