“Khiva is a jewel of Orient, a man made wondering city!”

Khorezm is situated in the lower reaches of Amudarya River between the boundless Kizil Kum and Kara Kum deserts.Khorezm is the native land of ancient civilization and where was born foreword of “Avesto”(sacred book of Zoroastrism).From the 10th c. Khorezm became a large economic,cultural and scientific centre.Here great scientists,astronomers,mathematicians,such as Al-Khorezmi(who invented “0”and who is known now in Europe as “Algoritmus”)and Biruni(who put forward the theory about the Earth, is round and it turns around its axe)lived and worked.Here in 11th c. the first Academy of Science in the East was found(Mamun`s Academy). Khiva – one of the most ancient cities in the world,was evidence of the rise and fall of Khorezm.The final appearance of old Khiva was formed at the end of 17th and at the beginning of the 19th c.c.Khiva,whice consists of two parts:Ichan Kala(Inner Fortress) and Dishan Kala(Outer Fortress).And 2 palaces,more than 60 madrassahs and mosques,mausoleums,caravan-serai,bath-house and etc. are situated in Ichan Kala as well.That`s why Ichan Kala is called “An open air museum” and all the historical monuments are included in 1990 into the Heritage List of UNESCO.In 1997 Khiva celebrated its 2500 year old anniversary.

Khiva has existed for a long time as a transcontinental pit-stop from Gurgani to Merv. Unlike to the other ancient cities of Asia, the historic heart of it is so well preserved that sometimes it seems that life has been almost squeezed out of it. Walking around the remarkable places of Ichan-Kala, you will notice the magnificent simplicity and monumentality of medieval architecture, and watch the delicate wood carving and skilled interweaving of ornamentation. The tall and beautiful silhouettes of towering minarets, hemmed in by clay houses with flat roofs and surrounded by the strong clay walls of a powerful fortress will give you a nice and clear idea of a typical feudal city in Central Asia.

Actually, Khiva is being the leader among the ancient Central Asian cites in the number of fascinating minarets. It is really made up of madrassahs, mosques and minarets.


MADRASSAH OF MUHAMMAD AMIN KHAN. Offering space over 250 students,the madrassah was the biggest in all of Central Asia in the 1850ies with hujras on two stories.As a first ever,the student`s hujras on the second floor had an annex each,allowing for more space and those on the ground floor were open to the outer façade.Beside the theological school,the madrassah accommodated the Chancellery of the Muslim Supreme Court.

KALTA MINOR (SHORT MINARET). Planned to become the highest minaret in the Islamic world at 80m,construction of the Kalta Minor was interrupted and the project abandoned,with the death of its commissioner,the Khan himself,in 1855.Thus the propotions between the height of 29m and the bottom diameter of 14.2m are not in line with the magnificent tower the Khiva ruler had in mind.Kalta Minor is however the only minaret with the entire surface covered in glazed tiles.

KUNYA ARK (OLD FORTRESS) is connecting the western wall of Ichan Kala with the abode of the hermit Ak Sheikh Bobo.The construction of Kunya Ark was undertaken around 1686-1688 by Arang Khan,the son of Anusha Khan.In the end of the 18th century Kunya Ark became a “town in town”,and was separated from the Ichan Kala by a high wall.At one time the fortress consisted of a multi yard complex encompassing the Khan`s chancellery,reception hall,harem,winter and summer mosques,and the mint and barns (stable,storehouses,workshops,powder mill).The present day structure of Kunya Ark in its restored state stems from the 19th century.The square near the entrance to Kunya Ark was used for military parades and taining battkes.

There was also a special place for serving a sentence and a zindan (prison),bordering upon the eastern walls of Kunya Ark.What remains of former vast estate are the eastern gate with guard room and the Kurinish Khana (reception hall) and avian with anti chamber from the 1680ies though destroyed by Iranian invaders in the 18th century and supsequently re-constructed and adorned with beautiful majolica under Alla Kuli Khan.It is here that the Khan on his throne received his subjects,other dignitaries and delegatins,adjacent to the treasure and the archive for manuscripts.In the middle of the courtyard a traditional felt yurt provided the correct venue to receive ambassadors of nomadic tribes.The summer and winter mosques were used.

Some of the best photos of Khiva can shot at sunset from the Akshin Bobo aivan high above the palace.

MADRASSAH OF MUKHAMMAD RAKHIM KHAN II. The full name of the Khan was Said Mukhammad Rakhim Bakhadut Khan.he was the writer and poet under the pseudonym Feruz.The construction of madrassah,which he had built,was completed in 1871 and is one of the largest in the Ichan Kala.The view onto the madrasah from Rakhim Khan`s private residence was short lived,for in 1973 Khiva surrendered to the Russians and the Khan fled the city.

MINARET OF ISLAM – HOJA. The minaret was built by the order of Islam-Hoja.This minaret is called the symbol of Khiva,its slightly conic shape an early sample of the architecture of ancient Kunya Urgench from the 14th century.The brickwork is based on a striped pattern from glazed tiles,the height of the minaret is 56.6m with a bottom diameter of 9.5m.

DJUMA MOSQUE. According to a description by the Arab geographer al-Muqaddasi,the Friday mosque dates from the 10th century.The mosque is unique in its construction;it has no portals,cupolas,galleries or inner yard and access to the mosque is possible from three sides. The ceiling of the huge hall rests on 213 wooden columns dating from various centuries.Small openings in the ceilings let in light and air.Along the southern wall,niches with stalactites stand out and on the right,curiously enough,a marble plate indicates profits and estates.The hand carved doors and columns are of special interest for they show different styles and techniques through the ages and some of them are even engraved with the year they were carved,namely 1316,1517,1788 and 1789.

TASH HAULI PALACE is situated in the eastern part of Khiva and was built by Alla Kuli Khan opposite his magnificent madrassah between 1830 and 1838 under the architectural leadership of Usto Kalandar Hivaki.It features prime examples of exquisite geometric majolica compositions by the genious master Abdulloh.The main purpose of the Tash Hauli was to provide a living quarter for the ladies of the harem to which were added the mehmonkhona(reception area) and finally an arzkhona courtroom.on the southern part of the harm`s inner courtyard,four small aivans each belonged to one of the four official wives according to sharia law,with the fifth avian reserved exlusively for the Khan himself.The Harem was constructed according to the Khorezmian tradition of “the women`s side”.The work was done by the famous master Abdullah,nicknamed Genius.this master was decorating all yards in Tash Hauli.The period of the Alla Kuli Khans is characterized by strong governmental skills,successful international politics and progress in the tade with Russia.