The ancient city of Khiva was once the center and the most beautiful place of the Khorezm Khanate. Its rich heritage, which has survived to the present day, makes Khiva one of the most interesting cities in modern Uzbekistan. Many sites of the Old City are listed by UNESCO on the World Heritage List of Humanity, and Khiva can rightly be called a city-museum. The tourist will find here numerous monuments of Muslim architecture, as well as archaeological sites that date back to the era of eras and even earlier periods. Inner, the old town of Khiva is a unique place with an overwhelming density of attractions per square meter, and with a huge not only historical but also aesthetic value. But even the outer city is very interesting, although not so well preserved, unlike the inner city that has come down to us in its original form.
According to legend, Khiva appeared on the site of a well, which was dug up by one of Noah's three sons and gave amazingly tasty water. This well is still considered one of the city attractions. Hayvak, as the well and the then city was founded, was two and a half millennia old and, over the centuries, became one of the thriving centers in Khorezm. Later, Khiva was seized by Arabs and Seljuks, the ruling dynasties were changing, and in 1220 the city wiped out the hordes of Genghis Khan from the face of the earth.
The city became the capital of
the Khiva khanate in 1598. After that, it began to develop rapidly and was soon
one of the largest religious centers of the Muslim East. In the 18-19
centuries, there were built many beautiful monuments of architecture, religious
and secular buildings. In 1873, Russian troops took Khiva. The second rise of
Khiva dates back to the beginning of the 20th century, when the city developed
already under the Russian Empire.
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The main attraction of the city is Ichan-Kala. This is the old city of Khiva, which was surrounded by a thick wall with a complex of defensive fortifications. The powerful defensive structures of Ichan-Kala were erected for hundreds of years, and today you can see constructions belonging to the 14th century. On the territory are preserved palaces and bastions, mosques with minarets, madrasas and tombs, bath complexes, inns, etc. We can say that Ichan-Kala is a stunningly original city in the city.
An ancient legend tells that the fortress of Ichan-Kala was built from the same clay that the prophet Mohammed used to build the Medina.
Historically, Khiva was divided into two parts, and Ichan-Kala was one of them, the Inner City. It was separated from the outer (Dishan-Kala) wall up to 10 m high and up to 6 m thick. The total length of these fortifications exceeded 2.5 km. The battlements with loopholes for shooters were made of adobe bricks, and round towers were built into them throughout. The towers on either side of the city gates were also fortified, and viewing galleries were located on them.
This indestructible citadel was built mainly in the 16th century, when Khiva became the capital of Khorezm. But in reality, both the city and the fortifications around it existed here as early as the 5th century, and some of these structures were used in the construction of the fortress walls.
Ichan-Kala became the first monument in Central Asia, put under the protection of UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.Very few Ichan-Kala buildings were lost over the centuries, and what remained could be more than enough for a whole book. True, most of the modern buildings were built in the 19th century. In terms of Ichan-Kala is an almost flat rectangle with a gate on each side. Especially noteworthy is Palvan-Darvaz in the eastern wall of the fortress, built in 1806. Otherwise, they were called "slave" because of the slave market, which was located right at their place. This monumental design in the form of a pointed arch with two round towers on the sides and a gallery at the top between them. The towers are crowned with domes of five-meter diameter, and the total height of the gate exceeds 50 m. To the left of the gate is the Kunya-Ark citadel, which was once autonomous from Ichan-Kala and served as the residence of the Khorezm Khan.
Altogether, along with the six madrasas of the Outer City in Khiva, there are 30 historical madrasas and more than 10 minarets in total.
Palvan-Darvaz got its name in honor of the national poet Palvan Mahmud, who is very honored in Khiva. His tomb is the most monumental in the city, and for more than seven centuries, pilgrims have flown to it. This mausoleum was built in the 13th century, although its present appearance dates back to the 19th century. The mausoleum strikes the imagination with a high double dome, a wooden door decorated with rich carvings, carved stone iwans and stunning majolica made in traditional colors in 1825.Special strength is attributed to the local clay, which is mined from the nearby lake Govuk-Kul. The centuries-old bricks were laid from it, with which the ancient Heyvak well was laid on the territory of Ichan-Kala. Nowadays, local potters continue to use clay.
Passing through one of the
gates, the guests find themselves in the middle of the dense building of
Ichan-Kala with narrow streets, where a huge number of attractions are
concentrated on a very small area. These are Mohammad Amin Khan Madrasah,
Mohammad Rahim Khan II Madrasah, Allah Quli Khan Madrassah (first half of the 19th
century) and Shergazi Khan Madrasah (first half of the 18th century); Kalta
Minar minaret, Tash Khauli palace of the 19th century, Said Alauddin's
mausoleum. All these buildings are often exquisitely decorated with the famous
Khiva plant ornaments carved in stone or wood or laid out with a blue, white
and blue mosaic.
Photos of Khiva