7 Cave Dwellings Fit for a Family (or Two)

Beat the rising cost of real estate by taking some cues from these ancient, hand-built caves.
By Will Gray

It's a survivalist's dream: Find a cave and call it home. People have been doing it for years, all over the world, to varying degrees of luxury and comfort. We researched some of the world's most famous cave dwellings from Afghanistan to the Americas, so if you're looking for a place to hang your hammock but avoid the rain, scroll down to check out seven caves to fashion your next home after.

More: Climb a cave roof with Chris Sharma and Stefan Glowacz


A cave dwelling in Petra © Martin Child / Getty Images

Petra, Jordan

Location: Ma'an Governorate, Jordan
Created: 300 B.C.
First home to: Nabataeans
How to visit: Easily accessible from the modern town of Petra but once in the site the only transport is camel, donkey or horse.

This ancient site, carved into rose-colored rock and spread over 15 square miles, was once a key trade hub between Arabia, Egypt and Syria.

It is famed for its pillared Treasury building but also houses thousands of small resident caves. They were permanently occupied right up to the late 20th century, when it was turned into a UNESCO heritage site.


A cave dwelling in Uchisar © LightRocket / Getty Images

Uchisar, Cappadocia, Turkey

Location: Near Goreme, Turkey
Created: 1400-1500s
First home to: People of the Ottoman Empire
How to visit: Plane or train from Istanbul or Ankara; you can stay in a cave hotel and hike the trails.

Holed out like a block of Swiss cheese, this natural rock castle is the high point and former powerhouse of the Cappadocia cave network.

It is filled with living chambers, churches, burial tombs, escape tunnels and several complex traps. The region around it is known as "Pigeon Valley," with the caves painted white to attract birds for their fertile droppings.


Vardzia, Georgia © AWL Images RM / Getty Images

Vardzia, Georgia

Location: Southern Georgia
Created: 1180s
First home to: Georgian Monks
How to visit: A day trip from Akhaltsikhe, the site is now an Historical Architectural Museum Reserve and is open to tourists.

Built to house 40,000 people, this rock city includes 13 floors of carefully carved construction with 409 rooms. It aso includes 25 wine cellars.

Many of the secret tunnels were revealed when a major earthquake in 1283 tore the mountain to bits — but there is still a working monastery that houses a small group of monks to this day.


Simple Spanish living © Cristina Arias / Getty Images

Terreras del Cualgerin, Spain

Location: Almeria Province, Andalucia, Southeast Spain
Created: Between 1900 B.C. and 1300 B.C.
First home to: Prehistoric cave dwellers
How to visit: A 236-mile drive southeast of Madrid will take you to a variety of modernized cave dwelling hotels.

Once home to pioneering silver miners, this region consists of more than 260 caves running five layers deep.

Many have been abandoned or destroyed by erosion but some have been refurbished and converted into homes and tourist accommodations. The nearby Cuevas del Almanzora houses a plush golf resort.


Yes, this was someone’s home © Perspectives / Getty Images

Mesa Verde, Colorado, U.S.

Location: Montezuma County, Colorado
Created: Late 1190s
First home to: Ancestral Puebloans / Anasazi
How to visit: Part of Southwest's Grand Circle, this is accessible from major airports and has lodges in the park.

Discovered by a cowboy in the late 1800s, the Cliff Palace is the centerpiece of this 600-cave preserve in the heart of the Rockies.

Translated as "green table," it was home to ancient farmers who lived in villages, up to 150 rooms in size, chiselled under the cliffs . It is now a National Park, the largest archaeological preserve in the U.S.


Grecian caves © Axiom RM / Getty Images

Festos, Greece

Location: Festos, Crete, Greece
Created: Between 3000 B.C. and 1850 B.C.
First home to: Minoans
How to visit: An hour's drive from the island's main town of Heraklion, but the caves can only be viewed from afar.

Hanging precariously above the sea, these cliff homes are some of the oldest, carved into chalk cliffs thousands of years ago.

Containing carved beds, windows and porches and with a perfect view of the island's spectacular sunsets, they became a paradise for hippies in the 1970s but are now closed to visitors.


Actually, these are just holes in a wall © Christophe Cerisier / Getty Images

Bamiyan, Afghanistan

Location: Central Afghanistan
Created: 600 A.D.
First home to: Hephthalites
How to visit: Three flights from Kabul per week, but some areas still house mines and unexploded ordinance.

This ancient site housed more than 1,000 caves at its peak, but some are at risk of collapse having undergone heavy attack from the Taliban in 2001.

Around 700 Afghan families now call this ancient cave site home, but the addition of front doors and windows, extensions and even satellite dishes and solar panels are damaging the site.


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