NEW YORK (MainStreet) - People all over the world have lived in cave dwellings for millennia, and do to this day -- in China, the American Southwest, France, Spain, Turkey, and Iran (to name just a few). And it is no wonder, since caves are cool in the summer, warm in the winter, offer great protection from the elements and have fewer building-material expenses. There are challenges too -- lack of light and damp air -- but these have been largely solved in the modern troglodyte lifestyle.

Here is our underground roundup of a few cave homes available for sale internationally.

Caves are cool in the summer, warm in the winter, offer great protection from the elements and have fewer building-material expenses.

Monticello, Utah

Cave Palace Ranch in Utah is a three-bedroom, two-bathroom, 4,995-square-foot cave home set on 110 acres in Montezuma Canyon and listed for $675,000. The home was built into a red rock cave system rich in Anasazi history. The Anasazi were the ancient Pueblo people who inhabited the Four Corners region of the U.S. and are renowned for the apartmentlike complexes they built in caves and carved into the sides of canyon walls. This home is built in the ancient tradition and makes for a unique and comfortable living space.

Inside, an open floor plan with high ceilings and oversized windows allow maximum interior light.

As with many cave homes, the acoustics are naturally spectacular for getting the most out of a simple piano or a serious jam session.

The home uses solar power, well water and propane and is extremely energy efficient. The huge parcel of land it sits on is surrounded on three sides by state and federal land. It is a nature lover's dream site, but you better like solitude -- your nearest neighbor is three-quarters of a mile away.

For information contact Brent Parker (435-881-1000) or visit the

website

.

Bisbee, Ariz.

This cave home, in a canyon in the Mule Mountains just outside the historic mining town of Bisbee, Ariz., is listed for $1.5 million. The area is a magnet for birdwatching enthusiasts, with more than 79 species identified in the area as well as 113 species of butterflies and a whole host of other native critters -- all of whom you can admire from the grand opening of this unique cave dwelling.

The sunroom faces southwest to get maximum winter sun and keeps the home at a constant average temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit all year long. Large flower and plant beds run along the natural rock walls. Other features include hand-forged gates, tile floors and skylights.

The kitchen ceiling looks like the cave ceiling but is actually made of ferro-cement and dropped to allow cooking smoke to vent through to the outside. The kitchen is chef-ready and equipped with a Sub-Zero refrigerator, Viking stove with hand-hewn copper hood, Bosch stainless steel dishwasher, three-basin sink and maple breakfast bar. Other custom details include an acid-etched copper panel over the refrigerator made by a local artist and stained-glass cabinet doors depicting desert animals.

The dining room counter is cement, cast in place, painted and sealed. There is a built-in office area and an under-the-counter Kenmore freezer. The dining room table is made out of quarter-inch steel plate with eight matching chairs. The cement ceiling mimics the look of the cave, but creates spaces for mechanical runs and water diversion. The cave is plumbed with gas lines for gas lighting if desired, but the owners have always used electric lighting.

The main house also features a loft bedroom, yoga/exercise room and two bathrooms. A custom onyx-rock basin collects 20-25 gallons of cave wall water a day that is used for drinking and cooking. There are also several natural pools on the 37-acre property used for water supply (seasonally), relaxing and swimming. An additional luxury is the secluded outdoor manmade hot tub.

The property also includes a two-story guest house, game room, library building, car port and workshop.

For information contact Jean Noreen (520-432-5437 ext.18) or visit the

website

.

Huescar, Spain

The cave homes of southern Spain are not natural cave formations into which humans simply moved. Dating back to before the 15th century, they have been delicately dug into hillsides, carved out of hard clay and earth. And they are being rediscovered and refurbished in a booming Spanish cave market.

Updated 21st century Andalusian cave houses are equipped with all the comforts of the modern home, and some can be had for bargain prices. Near the city of Granada, for example, is this three-bedroom cave home with a large front garden and a stunning view of the surrounding mountains.

The owners are still finishing the renovations on this historic cave, so the asking price of $122,950 at current rates is rock bottom (pun intended).

The spacious living room in the front area of the home -- built beyond the hillside cave out of clay and earth walls -- has an open fireplace, and there are Spanish tile floors throughout the home.

The cave walls are whitewashed, as is traditional, to reflect more light throughout the interior space. In addition to doors and windows, holes and reflective ducting brighten the indoors.

An external staircase leads to a complete apartment with a kitchen, bedroom and bath separate from the cave house.

Cave for a night -- Turkey

In case you aren't ready to commit to living full time in a cave, you might want to try staying in one of several international cave hotels. The Gamirasu in Cappadocia, Turkey, is a pretty cool one. The 25-room hotel is in a restored Byzantine monastic retreat cave house that's more than 1,000 years old. It reopened in 1999 as a luxury hotel. While humans have inhabited the caves for nearly 4,000 years, the rooms and suites here all have modern amenities. Furnishing are traditional for the area -- including ornate rugs, hand-carved furniture and delicate linens, not to mention the original frescoes of the 8th-century cave church preserved within the hotel's walls. The hotel restaurant serves organically grown food prepared in Cappadocian style. Rates for a double room cost between $133 and $203 a night.

For information, visit the

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website

.

Cave for a night -- Iran

In the shadow of the dormant Sahand volcano in Kandovan in the province of East Azerbaijan in northwestern Iran, volcanic ash and debris was compressed and naturally shaped into cone-shaped pillars containing pockets that became caves. The pillars have been inhabited for thousands of years; today a population of about 700 still live in these hollowed-out rocks the shape of witches' hats that have been fashioned into comfortable multistory homes.

Opened in 2007, the Laleh Kandovan International Rocky Hotel is a restored cave home offering 10 rooms (30 more are planned) and a restaurant. All the rooms have under-floor heating, and some have whirlpool baths. The decor is stylishly minimalist, using plenty of tiles and Persian rugs and allowing the unique rough rock walls to make a statement. Double rooms cost about $241 a night.

Cave for a night -- France

Since the 11th and 12th centuries people in many parts of France have settled in caves dug out of the ground and shaped into rooms of whatever size desired. There are about 45,000 cave homes in the Loire Valley -- some relics, many being refurbished. Les Hautes Roches manor is a luxury cave hotel built into a cliff overlooking the Loire River. The white-glove accommodations extend to a restaurant serving Brittany-inspired cuisine featuring local products. The hotel includes an outdoor swimming pool and access to Loire Valley attractions. Room rates range between about $244 and $412.

For more information, visit the

website

.

Cave for a night -- Australia

Coober Pedy is a town in the Outback semi-desert area of South Australia known as the "opal capital of the world" and famous for residents living belowground in old refurbished mines called dugouts. The dugouts are protected from the scorching daytime heat.

You can experience the down-under version of cave living at the Desert Cave Hotel, where you can choose to stay aboveground or underground in one of the windowless, cool, luxury rooms. The hotel also has underground shops, a cafe and an underground bar and gaming room. Rates for a double room start at $221.

For information, visit the

website

.

Cave for a night -- Arkansas

The Beckham Creek Cave Lodge in Beckham Creek Arkansas -- the heart of the Ozark countryside -- was built by Celestial Seasonings founder Mo Siegel in a natural cave as an end-of-the-world safehouse. It is now available for rent and outfitted with all the modern amenities, a natural indoor waterfall, a gourmet kitchen and five unique bedrooms. Rate information on request.

For information, visit the

website

.

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