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Destination: Uzbekistan
Last updated: 17 Jun 2017

Tour in Khiva, Uzbekistan: where to go, what to see, sights, and local landmarks

Khiva is the brightest stone in the necklace of ancient Khorezm, a great and glorious civilization of the past that developed in the lower reaches of Amudarya. Khiva's inner city, so called Ichan-Kala, is a unique museum in the open with gorgeous architectural ensembles and majolica-decorated monuments. All tourist coming to Khiva are usually concentrated around or inside this inner city.

The inner city is surrounded by a clay wall (more than two kilometers long and 5-6 meters thick) with four gate entrances. The West Gate (Ata Darvaza) has two brick turrets. Bagcha Gates lead to Urgench, recent capital of Khorezm, Palvan Gates to Amudarya and further eastward, and Tash Gates southward.

The smallest madrassah and the tallest minaret tower are neighbours in the Complex of Islam Khodja (1908). The intention of the artisans was to have a tower that travellers would see from far away when approaching the city. The builders of the minaret undertook its construction with an ambitious task to surpass Bukhara's Kalyan Minaret and used ancient traditions of building minarets as narrow towers.

The only blue dome in Khiva, Khanaka near the tomb of Pahlavan Makhmud, a poet and professional wrestler of 14th century. Legends were made about his strength and bravery. The majolica-decorated walls of the mausoleum bear patriotic rhymes that he wrote.

Opposite the Caravan Saray, the Tash Khouli Palace was built by Allakuli Khan between 1831 and 1841. The complex contains several buildings serving the needs of the royal family, such as the Reception Hall, the Yard of Entertainment and of course, the Harem. Four official wives and numerous concubines, often brought as gifts by foreign Embassies, were for pleasures and relaxation of the Khan after his exausting work for the sake of his people.

The buildings are generously decorated with ceramic tiles, carved stone and ganch, carved plaster. Inner premises, unlike the main yard, underwent little restoration and tourists can make their way through a maze of dark galleries and corridors to see splendid inside mosques and palaces.

Every tourist entering Khiva is facing this tower with an unusual profile. It was built in 1851-1854 by Muhammad Aminkhan to become the biggest madrassah in Central Asia (260 students). The Khan wanted his Minaret to be taller than anything ever built in Khorezm. He obliged his people to work free of charge for two years. When hungry and desperate artisans and workers went on a strike, the Khan ordered to execute their leader, someone named Matyakub. He was wrapped in a fresh sheep hide and buried alive in the basement of the Minaret under a stone slab with an inscription. The ambitious project was never completed and the tower became the gigantic tombstone for the artisan.

The appearance of Juma Mosque in Khiva is amazingly different from other mosques in Central Asia. It preserves the features and concepts of archaic Arabian mosques as they looked centuries ago when Islam was young.

Originally built in the 10th century, it was repeatedly renovated. It has 218 wooden columns supporting the roof, all of them bear fanciful carved ornaments. They represent different times, architectural styles and artistic concepts. In the gloomy dusk of the spacious mosque, surrounded by majestic columns, visitors can easily imagine ecstasy and religious zeal of the congregation.
View of Khiva, Uzbekistan
Khiva in winter
Ensemble of Islam Khoja in Khiva, Uzbekistan
Islam Khodja Complex
Festivities in Khiva, Uzbekistan
Mausoleum of Pahlavan Makhmud
Decor and monuments in Khiva, Uzbekistan
Tash Khouli (Stone Courtyard and Harem)
Muhammad Aminkhan Madrassah and Kalta Minor Tower in Khiva, Uzbekistan
Muhammad Aminkhan Madrassah
Column Hall of Juma Mosque in Khiva, Uzbekistan
Juma Mosque
Other tourist attractions in Khiva, Uzbekistan
Ak Mosque
Anush Khah's Bathhouses
Chadra Hauli
Complex of Seyid-Biy and Palvan-Kari Minaret
Djuma Mosque
Hazarasp
Ichan-Qala
Islam Khodja Ensemble
Kunya-Ark of Kurinysh-Khan
Madrasah of Arab-Khan and Muhammad-Amin-Inak
Madrasah of Khurdjum and Allakuli-Khan
Madrasah of Kutlug-Murad-Inak and Abdullah-Khan
Madrasah of Matniyaz Divan-Beghi
Madrasah of Muhammad Rahim Khan
Mausoleum of Seyid Ala Ad-Din
Minaret of Djuma Mosque
Muhammad Amin-Khan Madrasah and Kalta-Minor
Necropolis of Khiva Khans
Old City
Pahlavan Mahmud Necropolis
Tash Hauli Harem
Tash Hauli Palace

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