With a few notable exceptions (looking at you, scientists on Antarctica), humans civilizations tend to center on easy-to-reach areas. Most of the greatest cities in history sprouted up along major waterways for a reason, after all.
This is part of what makes one secretive, 4,000-year-old Chinese town so fascinating. To even get a peek of this remote place, nicknamed the “mole town,” the world needed to use drones. Nonetheless, people have called it home for a millennia, largely undisturbed.
Now, this amazing aerial drone footage of the ancient city has been made available to the public, and it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before… With the capabilities of drone technology at an all-time high, it’s safe to say we’re able to reach places that we’ve never seen before. In few cases is that more evident than with one mysterious city hidden in a remote part of China.
Tucked outside of Sanmenxia City in China’s Henan Province, the town has been revealed to the public thanks to recent drone footage, which offered a first-time glimpse at the mysterious and remote village.
The drone footage of the mysterious 4,000-year-old town offers incredible views of more than 10,000 bizarre “pit yards” that thousands of people continue to call home to this very day.
There’s also a fitting nickname for the place… The village was nicknamed a “mole town,” and at last count, more than 3,000 people lived there in underground dwellings known as yaodongs (or “house caves”).
They’ve only recently become accessible to intrepid tourists looking to experience them firsthand.
What makes the dwellings so bizarre is that they exist underground and the walls are extremely well insulated.
During the winter, the mild temperatures average 50 degrees Fahrenheit, while in the summer, they sit steady at about 68 degrees.
The dwellings are all connected through a series of subterranean caves and tunnels that were constructed a long time ago. To leave their homes, residents exit through the caves and head upstairs to the ground level.
The manmade cave walls were built and strengthened by using various natural materials found in the local area. They can reach immense depths of 20 to 23 feet and are anywhere from 33 to 39 feet in length each.
Research has found that as many as six generations, tracing back over 200 years, have lived in the same exact yaodong dwellings. Obviously, their ancestors knew what they were doing for these to still be standing so many years later.
The yaodongs originated during the Bronze Age—a period when it was common for people to live in subterranean dwellings featuring deep pits.They became popular structures amongst the population during the Qing and Ming dynasties.
These buildings in Sanmenxia, which is often described as one of China’s “cradles of civilization,” have been under conservation since they were first listed as a form of intangible cultural heritage in 2011.
While this remote town is positively ancient, it has since been updated and renovated to be more in line with present day utility standards.
Those aren’t the only upgrades that have been made, either… Many of the yaodongs have been fully updated to be more energy efficient, completely soundproof, and even earthquake-resistant. That’s actually hugely important since they’re literally built into hills!
When it came to withstanding natural disasters, the people who constructed the yaodongs took every possible precaution. For instance, they built wide wells next to the homes to prevent them from flooding during storms.
It wasn’t until the local government learned the subterranean dwellings were receiving outside interest from tourists that they decided to protect the sites. Eventually, they became the immensely popular attraction that they are today.
It’s easy to appreciate the care with which the homesteads were built, but it’s not all just in the design. The soil in the Henan Province region is solid and boggy, meaning there was no shrinkage or shifting over time.
This contributed to their longevity. Those who live in surrounding yaodongs have the opportunity to enjoy the literal fruit of their agricultural labor. Many of the dwellings were constructed on sloped land to make it possible to grow and farm their own plants and vegetables. So, what does it cost to actually live in this place? Most people might be surprised to learn how cheap it is to live in this remote Chinese village. According to recent statistics, a one-bedroom dwelling (without plumbing) will cost you about $29 per month! What’s even more interesting is that you could purchase an entire house, complete with three bedrooms and a bathroom, for a measly $4,500! It might not be your ideal location, but that’s a price that’s sure to fit in the ol’ budget.
Can you believe that this amazing and mysterious place used to be almost impossible to reach? It’s so rich in history and culture, and there’s probably no end to the wonders that are waiting for outsiders.
It’s so awesome that we’re getting to see places like this Chinese village from perspectives we’ve never seen before. Just look at the way these people live in their completely unique town. The footage is mesmerizing… There are so many beautiful places in the world we’d never get to see without drone technology. Thankfully, now we’re finally getting the chance. Share this drone footage of China’s mole town with your friends below!