KHIVA

Little Khiva is everything you can imagine from an ancient silk road city. Within the mudbrick walls of the old town is an impressive amount of history on display with mosques, madrassahs, caravanserais and shrines. 
Khiva plays an equally important role on the Silk Road and is full of historical Islamic architecture. Although Khiva is not a big city, there are many things to do in Khiva for its small size. If you like history, you will have plenty of things to do in Khiva, because it is old. At least the 10th century, although some believe that people were already living here before. The city saw many invaders and wars destroy it. The Arabs, Genghis Khan, Timur and the Soviets all wanted their part of Khiva. 
Khiva was an important trading post in the Kyzyl-Kum desert. Caravans of camels came through the city every day and it also became a center of Islamic art and architecture. 
What you see now in Khiva is mostly built in the 18th and 19th century. This might surprise you, because Khiva still feels much older and simply breathes history. On any wander through Khiva, you’ll happen upon numerous madrassahboasting impressive tilework and tiny rooms, winding alleyways perfect for getting lost in and brightly coloured mosques and minarets waiting to be explored.
 
 
Ichan Kala
Located in the city of Khiva, Ichan Kala (also spelled Ichan Qa’la) was an important stepping stone along the Silk Road. Coming from the West, it was the last place for caravans to stock up before tackling the desert. Like most cities in the region, the original settlement consisted of an inner and an outer part. Incha Qala was the inner, fortified section of this city.
With such a steady stream of visitors, it’s hardly surprising to find that the fortified walls were built to stretch upwards of more than 30 feet high. The oldest section of the barrier, which was built using mud bricks, dates back to the fifth century.
The walls once featured four gates that faced the four directions. The crenellated wall is punctuated with semicircular towers and together they create mesmerizing wave patterns that have captured the imagination of artists through the years.
The beautiful walls aren’t the fortified city’s only treasure. As testimony to the geopolitical importance it once had, Ichan Kala is an impressive sight to behold. Its history goes back millennia, but the buildings remaining standing are mainly from the beginning of the 19th century. In all, there are 51 monuments and 250 buildings nestled within its walls. Among the highlights are Mukhammad Aminkhan Madrassahm, Djuma Mosque (also the oldest structure in Ichan Kala), Oq Mosque, Alla-Kulli-Khan madrasah, Pakhlavan Mahmoud Mausoleum, and various caravanserais and bazaars, all exquisite examples of ancient Central Asian Islamic architecture. 



Muhammad Aminkhan Madrassah
It is situated in the western part of Ichan-Kala opposite Kunya-Ark at the gates of Ata-Darvaz. Muhammad Amin Khan built this two-story madrasah from 1851 to 1854. Muhammad Amin Khan is the seventh ruler from Kungrats (Uzbek dynasty) in the Khiva Khanate, who came to power after the death of his brother Rakhimkulikhan. It stands at the west entrance to the old city of Khiva. During its construction, in the middle of the 19C, this madrasa (school) was one of the largest in Central Asia, with its 125 cells distributed over two floors around a vast square courtyard. The inner and outer facades of the portal are richly decorated with blue majolica.  

Kalta Minor 
There is one particular monument that really stands out as you start walking in the old city. It’s a large turquoise-tiled tower that can be seen from quite a distance. 
Although this tower seems to be complete, it was actually designed to be the base of the tallest minaret in Uzbekistan. The construction of this structure began in 1851. It was hoped that the minaret would be tall enough to enable people standing on top of it to see all the way to Bukhara.
Unfortunately, the Khan (Mohammed Amin Khan) who had ordered its construction dropped dead in 1855, leaving the tiled structure incomplete.
Kalta Minor minaret is really beautiful during sunset when its blue tiles are covered in a reddish glow.
 

Kunya Ark
Along the western walls, there is the fortress of Kunya Ark, built by Khan Arangin in the 1686. The original layout consisted of numerous rooms that provided homes for the Khan family and its court dignitaries.
Today there are few spaces compared to the original ones and date back to the 19th century; they are the Hall of the Throne (kurinishkhana), the Summer Mosque, the mint, the harem and the prisons; visitable as a museum open to the public.
Among the environments that no longer exist today, we remember the arsenal, the external courtyard that served as a waiting room for meetings with the Khan, a staircase that led to the nearby mountain where a watchtower was located.
The Hall of the Throne is an Iwan (an open room on one side with a porch) clad in beautiful majolica tiles decorate with motifs from Islamic art. Elegant carved wooden columns hold the porch from the wooden ceiling, which is also refined in geometric patterns in purple and gold that contrast with the turquoise walls. Damaged in the XVIII century by the Iranian invasion; it was then restored by Khan Iltuzar. The throne, created in 1816, was made of torn wood and decorated with enamelled silver.
Summer Mosque and the Mint were built simultaneously in the same complex. The Mosque consists of an Iwan covered with elegant majolica tiles, where the turquoise predominates with its floral motifs, while the roof of the porch supported by six wooden columns is painted with blue, golden and purple motifs.
The visitable harem is not the original one, but it is built under the Khan Mukhammad Rahim II in the second half of the XIX century in the northern part of the citadel. Walls feature inserts of colored, separate ceramic tiles and simple plastering. Iwan columns are decorated with traditional carvings.
Of the most ancient environments, there is a thermal plant built in 1657 and it reminds for method and engineering the Roman ones. The rooms are semi-underground and a system of underground channels carries hot air into the room destined to the hot bath; besides there is a swimming pool with cold water. The rooms are covered by domes that can be seen from the outside.
The oldest building of the complex remains the Bastion Ak Shaikh Bobo, which means the white sheikh, dedicated a Maukhtar Vali, so called by the people. Built in the XII century, the bastion was used as an arsenal and watchtower. From its summit it is possible to admire the whole Ichan-Kala.
Some would say that this ark is so full of interesting sights that it’s almost like a city within a city. It’s the perfect place to visit if you want to have an inside look at the life of a Khivan leader. 

Pakhlavan Makhmud Mausoleum
Built to honour the 14th-century poet and wrestler Pakhlavan Makhmud, who is revered as Khiva’s protector, the Pakhlavan Makhmud mausoleum (rebuilt 1810–25) is usually considered the most impressive building in the Ichan-Kala. 
Its interiors, with every inch adorned in blue and white tile work, is simply beautiful.
The sacred site, which sits below the turquoise dome that dominates Khiva’s skyline, houses the tomb of Pakhlavan Makhmud, Khiva’s patron saint among other accolades.
The chamber that houses the mausoleum, as well as the chambers surrounding the courtyard, are places of worship and sanctuary for the townspeople so remember to be respectful at all times when exploring, especially when visiting as a group.

Islam Khodja Madrassah and Minaret
This Madrassah with its beautiful minaret really is the jewels and symbol of Khiva. It was the first site in Uzbekistan to be included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Built in 1908, the minaret could be seen from a great distance and it helped travelers find their way to the city.
What is particular about this architectural complex is the fact that the madrassah was intentionally designed to be smaller than average while the minaret was intended to be the tallest minaret in Uzbekistan.
One activity that we definitely recommend doing while in Khiva is to climb the Islam Khodja minaret. The stairway to the top of the minaret is very steep and narrow. Be careful if you cross people coming down the stairs as you’re going up because the way down the staircase is particularly treacherous.
The Islam-Khodja complex stands to the southeast of the main east-west street in Khiva's Ichan-Kala (old city) and includes a madrasa and minaret. Although it was built fairly recently (1908-1910) than it was constructed according to traditional principles in exacting detail, and its level of craftsmanship is among the highest in the city. 
The site is named after Islam Khodja, the grand vizier (and also first cousin) of Muhammad Rahmi Bahadur II, the ruler of the Khanate of Khiva from 1864-1910. Islam Khodja was a modernizer who introduced new amenities to the city including a hospital, telegraph office, and non-parochial schools. Although he lived long enough to see the complex completed, he was stabbed to death in 1913. 

Juma Mosque
If you have traveled Muslim countries, and if you see many beautiful mosques, you will  understand that but none of them were as eerily mysterious as this one. 
Friday mosque in the Khiva fortress Ichan-Kala. According to the Arab geographer Mukaddasiy, the Juma mosque dates from the X century. According to the historian Munis, at the end of the 18th century, the mosque was rebuilt with money donated by Khan Abdurahman Mehtar. Juma is unique in structure - it has no portals, domes, galleries and courtyard. The mosque has access from three sides. The Juma mosque has 213 wooden columns supporting its low-ceiling wooden roof – a concept thought to be inspired by ancient Arabian mosques. The pillars are beautifully carved.
The wooden pillars give a special energy to this mosque. It almost feels like walking in the forest and reminds of the Bolo Hauz mosque in Bukhara. The center of the roof has a light well giving the place a beautiful natural light.
There is a very peaceful atmosphere in this place and even in the heat of summer, the interior of the mosque stays cool and fresh. Although the mosque is now inactive, it could once receive 500 people. 

Tosh Hovli Palace
It is one of the most fascinating places within the old city where it's easy to imagine what life was like in the days of the Khans. The palace was commissioned by Allah Kuli Khan as part of an ambitious building project which included a caravanserai, tim and madrassah. Plans for the extravagant new mansion were laid in 1831 which incorporated a tight two year building schedule. When the architect, Usta Nur Mohammed, timidly pointed out that this timescale would be impossible he was promptly impaled - a death which could take up to eight hours. A more acquiescent architect was procured but, despite the efforts of a thousand Persian slaves, the palace still took a staggering eight years to complete. It remained a residence of the Khans until the 1880's when Mohammed Rakhim Khan II returned to the Kunya Ark.

Allah Kuli Khan Madrassah and Caravanserai 
The other major highlight of the city is covered bazaar and the caravanserai of Alla Kuli Khan, which nowadays look like a single structure. In the 19th century, due to  the expansion of trade with the neighboring countries and cities, new trade areas were required. The main bazaars were located at the gates of Palvan-Darvaza, therefore in the 30s of the 19th century Alla-Kuli-khan constructed a huge caravanserai. It worked as a hotel for merchants.
Allakulikhan Madrassah is recognized as the largest and most beautiful in Khiva. Its construction began under the Khiva khan Allakulikhan, who wanted to turn the city into one of the most attractive in the East. He ordered to dismantle all the old and dilapidated buildings and to build new, beautiful madrassas in their place. The idea of ​​the architects was truly bold, and the madrasah should have been necessarily impressive sizes. For these purposes, a part of the city wall was demolished before construction and several domes of one of the gates of Ichan-Kala were dismantled. An impressive portal was built on this site, which is located opposite another, adjacent to the Kutlug Murad madrasah. Thus, the ancient masters, paying tribute to traditions, built a pair of madrassas on the new Kosh Square. Despite the complicated structure, you will not find strict forms here. Everything looks proportionate, harmonious and elegant. The courtyard of the madrasah has a trapezoidal shape, it houses 99 hujras, summer and winter mosques, darskhan (audience). Several hujras were given to a large library, which was visited by students from all over Khiva.
The caravanserai in its shape resembles a madrasah. Around the courtyard of the caravanserai there are 150 rooms, some of which were given for residential cells, and the other for warehouses. The caravanserai served as a kind of hotel for merchants who could live in this territory, store and sell their goods. A little later, an indoor bazaar was attached to it - Tim, in the side shops of which there were merchants with their goods, and in the middle a series of buyers moved.

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