OASIS OF ANTIQUITY-THE CITY OF KHIVA

Khiva is the only city that survived the weather blows and unexpected twists and turns of history. In ancient times, the location of the river near the city allowed its citizens to live and prosper. Capricious Amudarya having had changed its directions multiple times was the cause of the disappearance of many settlements nearby. But despite that fact Khiva continued its existence.

The first reference to the word "Khiva" was found in Arab geographical works, which stated that it was one of the stopovers on the way of caravans in X century. There isn’t any other early mentions of the town. They wrote that the inhabitants of the city were very hospitable and brave people.

Khiva is located in the flatlands bordered by a desert. A well with drinking water served as a base for the origin and growth of Khiva city. Later, the Hejkanik channel was built from the Amu Darya river , which supplied water to all the nearest settlements.

According to the folk legend foundation of Khiva is refered to the Prophet Noah, whose son ordered to dig a well and initiated the construction of the city. Currently, in the ancient part of Khiva there is a well which is the same age as the city according to the local sayings.

The organization of ancient Khiva

According to ancient chronicles, the town of Khiva was a very large settlement, with a beautiful and well-maintained mosque. These lands were considered to be the most extensive and densely populated, where residents were not afraid of hard-work and needed a little for life. Khiva used to be a leader in terms of population, size and quality of life.

Later the city fell under the onslaught of Genghis Khan armies. Inhabitants of Khiva bravely defended the city. A mausoleum was built later over the graves of the defenders.

Tamerlane tried to conquer Khiva 5 times but he managed to succeed only in 1388.

One hundred years later the city became part of the state, which was ruled by Shaybanids. Khiva was declared the capital of Khanate in 1598, the city was strengthened around its territory and had great 10-century-old history.

The Role Of Russia

In 1873 Khiva was captured by Russian troops. A governor-general of Turkestan K.P. Kaufman commanded a large military campaign. The city became a part of the Syr-Darya area of Turkestan. The Red Army managed to overthrow Khan of Khiva in 1919 and Khiva became the capital of Khorezm republic. The oasis land became part of Turkmen and Uzbek SSR four years later, which gained its independence in 1991 year.

Khiva has been continuously updated going through different times. Decrepit buildings have been replaced to new ones. Therefore the earliest monuments almost did not survive until our times.

Many Islamic educational institutions started to work from the 9th century in Khiva. Major research centers were rebuilt where scientists had studied astronomy, medicine, mathematics, chemistry.

In 1618 a building of madrasah was erected. After a small period of time Khiva became one of the religious foundations of the spiritual world of Islam.

Architectural boom started in the beginning of XX century during the ruling of Uzbek kungrat dynasty. At the same time the Minaret Islam-Khoja was built which became the main attraction of the city. A hospital and post office buildings were built too, which are still used in our time. Post office building is an architectural monument which is under protection of UNESCO.

Khiva now

The famous Central Asian traveler once wrote: the most noble and hospitable people live in Khiva.

The traditional warmth and hospitality is combined with fresh and juicy fruits from the fields of Khiva. The grapes, melons and figs are praised in the region. Large bazaar ranges national dishes and it is the most visited spot in the city. There can be found respected elders and colorfully dressed women. For young guys and girls, this is the place to meet. A variety of craft exhibitions and fairs will impress any tourist. Carpets with patterns made of small beads, copper chasing, musical instruments are only a part of the diversity represented in the market. Filmmakers use cityscape for shooting historical films. In the summer there is architects and artists gathering.

The ancient structure of the city nicely matches the modern constructions. The cultural center is constantly updated in eastern traditions of architecture. Construction of multistoried houses is in progress in the outskirts of the city neighborhood. Khiva is worth admiring for its beauty, work and creativity of the ancient people.

Major tourist sights:

Ichan-Kala

This is the old part of the city surrounded by a clay wall which length is more than 2 km, thickness of 5 meters and a height of 10 meters. Ichan-Kala is a state historical and archaeological museum-reservation. It is here where the traditional image of the Eastern buildings is saved. But the most interesting fact is that this is not just a museum it is a real town where families of artisans live.

Kunya-Ark Fortress

Kunya-Ark means "a fortress in a fortress” It is separated from Ichan-Kala by high walls. Once there were halls for receptions, the khan's harem, a mosque, and numerous outbuildings. Today only few buildings have survived: the Eastern Gate with guards, a reception, a cell AK-Sheikh-Bobo, harem, summer and winter mosque.

Madrassah Of Muhammad Amin-Khan

This is one of the most important symbols of Khiva of the old town. Muhammad Aminkhan Madrassah is the longest in the entire Central Asia. The façade is decorated with glazed bricks, doors are covered with original carvings, the intention is made in plant ornaments. Today it is a place where a travel agency operates along with a money exchange office, hotel and a cafe.

Kalta Minar Minaret

Kalta Minar minaret is a true symbol of the city. Its fundamental dimensions are truly amazing, its diameter at the base measures 14.5 meters and height is 29 meters. Designed by the architect the height of the tower was supposed to be 70 meters. After the ruler of Khiva Muhammad Amin Khan was killed the construction of the building stopped. The Minaret has many legends associated with its construction. This tower is unique.

Tash Hovli Palace

It's a summer residence of Khiva khans. Walls and ceilings of the harems are covered with unique ornaments in white, blue, and light blue tones. Windows have hammered copper frames. A wonderful carving on ganch has survived until our days. The walls are lined with curly niches decorated with distinct panels. Tash Hovli Palace is the greatest achievement of Khiva architecture.

Coordinates: 41°22′42″N 60°21′50″E   
Mayor: Davron Allakuliev
Founded: VI century b.c.
Climate: Distinctly continental
Population: 51 200 people (2004)
Name of the citizens: Khivan
Time Zone: UTC+5

OASIS OF ANTIQUITY-THE CITY OF KHIVA photos

All photos