Humanity has proven that we are capable of creating stunning structures that complement nature. Interestingly, some of our ancestors chose to carve amazing creations on cliffs. While some were hoping the mountains will protect them, others simply left a mystery that has baffled us for years.
Temples, castles, statues, and encampments were not the only things that people carved on cliffs. The Bo people in China, for example, have decorated cliffs with the coffins of their departed. It is unclear how they managed to hang the heavy coffins on the side of the mountains.
Here are nine awesome structures that were built on cliffs that you can still see today.
1. Guoliang Tunnel
Guoliang is a remote village located in the Taihang mountains. Due to its location, the village used to be inaccessible to the outside world. However, things changed in 1972 when some of the villagers decided to build an access road on the side of the mountain. The 13 villagers only used chisels and hammers since they didn’t have power tools.
It took them five years to complete the Guoliang tunnel, which has turned into a tourist spot.
You can easily find towns built on clifftops in Yemen. However, Al-Hajjarah stands out for its tall houses and sheer beauty. The village’s structures were built in the 12th century and Al-Hajjarah served as an important fortification during the Ottoman occupation. Today, the village is known to trekkers as a base camp.
3. Saint Michel d’Aiguilhe
People probably don’t expect to find chapels on top of volcanic necks. However, that is exactly where Saint Michel d’Aiguilhe has sat since 962. The chapel is only accessible by the 268 steps that were thoughtfully carved into the rock.
The French truly believe it is a sacred place since it was built to celebrate Saint James’ return from a pilgrimage. Joan of Arc’s mother reportedly braved the steps to pray for her daughter in the chapel.
4. Maijishan Grottoes
The Chinese certainly love creating things on cliffs. They may have started work on the 194 caves on the side of the Maijishan hills between 384 and 417 CE. Although it is unclear how long it took them, they didn’t stop until there were 7,200 Buddhist sculptures carved into the cliffs.
5. Predjama Castle
Predjama Castle sounds like the perfect home for introverts since it is tucked away inside a cave mouth. The castle may have been built in the 11th century but only became famous in the 15th century when the knight Erazem Lueger took residence.
If the castle looks familiar, you may have seen it in the 1986 Jackie Chan film Armor of God.
6. The Madara Rider
One of Bulgaria’s most magnificent tourist attractions is the huge rock relief depicting a man riding a horse as a dog follows him. It is one of the most mysterious structures in the list since the rider’s identity has been debated for years. Some believe that it is a representation of the Bulgar deity Tangra while others insist it is connected to the Iranian deity Mithra.
There is also a possibility that the relief pays tribute to Khan Tervel who ruled in the late seventh century.
7. The Monterosso Giant
The scenic Italian village of Monterosso al Mare is also home to the gigantic cliffside sculpture of Neptune. It was created by Arrigo Minerbi in the early 1900s and initially featured Neptune with a trident and a shell on his head. Unfortunately, the sculpture was damaged during World War II.
8. Mustang Caves
There are natural caves and then there are caves carved by our ancestors into the sides of mountains. There are over 10,000 man-made caves that are considered the Sky Caves of Nepal and they have been around since 1,000 BC. Although they were originally used as burial chambers, people started moving into the caves during the 10th century. It wasn’t until the 1400s that the caves became meditation chambers.
9. Dogon Caves In The Bandiagra Escarpment
Mali’s Bandiagra Escarpment is already impressive due to its size and length. However, it gets even more interesting when you notice the caves carved into the side of the cliffs. These are the homes of the Dogon people who have lived there since the 14th century.
Although the Dogon have taken residence of the caves, the Bandiagra Escarpment was originally inhabited by the Tellem people.
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