Famous rock cities – which ones are worth visiting?

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Rock towns are an assemblage of rocks of varying sizes that form narrow passageways and intricate mazes, steps, and sometimes even windows and balconies that offer picturesque views of the rock spires. Explore some of the rock cities that are truly worth a visit!

The Rock Town of Adršpach, Czech Republic

This unusual place in the Czech Republic located near the Polish border has been attracting crowds of visitors for years. The Adršpach rocks owe their shape to the action of water – once the whole town lay on the bottom of the sea. After some time the sea receded, revealing soft sedimentary rocks, which under the influence of natural forces formed an impressive town famous for its many attractions. Let’s just mention the Gothic Gate, squeezed between towering sandstone blocks through which you enter a labyrinth of rock walls, and the huge rock formations scattered throughout the town which owe their names to their fanciful shapes. You’ll see Sleeping Swan, Camel, and even Tsunami Wave here. 

Vardzia, Georgia

Stretching in the south of Georgia, the rocky city of Vardzia dates back to the so-called Golden Age of the Georgian state, when the country was ruled by Queen Tamara. By order of her father George III, an underground monastery was dug in the wall of the Eruszeti massif on the Mtkvari River at a height of 1300 meters. Over time, Vardzia grew with new chapels, churches, baths, refectories and libraries hollowed in the soft tuff at a depth of 50 meters. Hidden in the mountain massif, the city might never have been discovered, had it not been for the collapse of a huge wall several hundred years ago. Vardzia occupies as many as 13 floors, which look like stacked on top of each other viewing terraces.

Sassi di Matera, Italy

Houses, winding streets, alleys and steps in the town of Matera in southern Italy were hollowed in the rock by various civilizations over several centuries, and were abandoned only after World War II, when Carl Levi’s memoir “Christ Stopped at Eboli” came to light. The author painted a horrifying picture of poverty, filth, and disease in Matera at the time. In the blink of an eye, the town became a symbol of “national disgrace. In 1952, the authorities resettled more than 15,000 cave dwellers in the newly built town. When many of them refused to leave their homes, the government bricked up the entrances to the caves with cement. After 40 years, the districts of Sasso Caveoso and Sasso Barisano, where the houses carved in the rock were preserved, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Rocamadour, France

The three storeys of the rock-cut village reflect the medieval division between states: the knights lived in the ‘penthouse’, the clergy on the ‘second floor’ and the simple people at the bottom, by the river. At the top of the cliff on which the small village was built is the monastery, accessible by 216 stairs. The town of Rocamadour attracts visitors not only with its magnificent view of the Alzou River valley, but also with its many legends, which are still vivid in the imagination today. 

Muddy Rocks, Poland

Located within the Table Mountains National Park, the Błędne Skały is an example of Europe’s few plateau mountains that erupted some 30 million years ago. Rains and winds have carved in the rocks bizarre forms and labyrinths with numerous passages, caverns and tunnels. It is better to go to the Błędne Rocks without any unnecessary weight. It will be difficult to squeeze through the narrow corridors and pass under low ceilings in the rock labyrinths. In any case, at the Błędne Skały it is difficult not to get a bump or scratch your knee. But it’s worth it, because here you will see the true wonders of nature.

main photo: aagaard

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