Khiva is the authentic museum city under the open sky. The city occupied a favorable position on the caravan roads to Khoresm. It had been one of the key cities in the region. In the 17th century, Khiva became the capital of the Khiva Khanate. The city is surrounded by a fortress and divided into the ark (citadel), shakhristan (city) and rabat (suburbs). The medieval appearance of Khiva is mostly due to the monuments built from the 17th – 19th centuries which have been virtually untouched and perfectly preserved until present. In the list of values common to all mankind, Khiva occupies a particular place in the creation of world civilization and is one of the most important centers of the Great Silk Road. In 1997, Khiva celebrated its 2500th anniversary. Khiva by right has gained the title as the ‘city-museum’ thanks to its unique architecture and monuments that are significant throughout the world.
Ichan-Kala. The translation Ichan-Kala means “Inner Town”. It is surrounded with powerful walls and has a total area of 25 hectares. Ichan-Kala rises above the outer town of Dishan-Kala. Ichan-Kala had been the official residence of the Khiva khans. Feudal palaces, madrassahs, mosques and mausoleums were concentrated here including: Kunya-Ark (17th –19th centuries), an ancient citadel of local rulers and official residence of Khiva khans; Djami mosque (Friday mosque) (1788-1789). It’s a gem with 212 columns of carved wood; Kalta-Minor minaret (28 m in height) – an incomplete minaret initially designed to be the highest minaret of the Muslim east; Makhmud-Pakhlavan ensemble (14th –20th centuries) includes a mausoleum, a vault with columns and living quarters for Koran readers; and Islam Khodja madrassah and minaret (1908-1910) built at the moment of reorganization of the central streets of the inner town. Each of the above-mentioned monuments has its own charm, history and peculiarity.
Said Allauddin Mausoleum. The building of the mausoleum adjoins the eastern wall of the Matniyaz Divan-begi madrassah. It was erected in honor of the great Sufi sheikh in 1303. This sepulcher, with dome and unique majolica tombstone, is dated from the first half of the 14th century. The Ziarathona was added here in the 17th century. The architecture design of these structures is varied.
Uch-Ovliya Mausoleum. The Uch-Ovliya mausoleum is a historical monument of Khiva. The mausoleum is located near the western walls of the Tash-Khauli Palace. It was erected in memory of three holy men.
The grand hall of the mausoleum is covered with a vaulted dome with many graves throughout the mausoleum.
The earliest date for this mausoleum’s existence is 1561 where the date may be seen carved on a panel of a door. The name of the master is also carved on the same entrance door – Abdullah ibn Said. According to the history, the mausoleum was restored between 1821-1822. In the beginning of the 1980’s the portal was damaged by heavy rains, which also seriously damaged the columns of the mosque. After the restoration and reconstruction of the territory, the mausoleum once again became a frequently visited site.
Kalta-Minar Minaret. Kalta-Minar minaret is located on the territory of Ichan-Kala – the inner town of ancient Khiva. It was constructed in 1855. According to Khiva historian Agakhi, the construction of the minaret was not completed because of the death of the ruler Mukhammed Amin-khan who initiated the project. However a popular legend says that having heard about the huge minaret being built in Khiva, emir of Bukhara wished to have an even larger minaret in Bukhara. So he secretly made a deal with the architect on construction of a similar minaret in Bukhara. When the khan of Khiva learnt about the deal he ordered to kill the architect upon completion of the works. This news reached the architect and he managed to escape, leaving the Khiva minaret unfinished.
Tash-Khuali Palace. The principal palace of local khans was constructed by Allah Kuli Khan in the eastern part of Khiva. The construction works lasted for 8 years, from 1830 through 1838. First there were built the harem living quarters, then mehmonhona – traditional reception courtyard appeared. The last structure to be built was arzhona- Court of Law. The Khiva historian Munis wrote that the best architects of that time were impaled for rejecting to construct the palace within two years. It took architect Kalandar Hivagi 8 long years to implement the khan’s idea.
Palvan-Darvaza. The Eastern Gate, Palvon Darvoza, was constructed in Khiva citadel in 1804-1806 . The gate was called ‘Slave gate’ as it connected the inner town with bustling slave market outside. The historical documents testify to the fact that slave trade was thriving in the region at that period of time. Turkmen tribes were well known for extensive enslavement of people. Taking advantage of their unrivalled fast horses they made plundering raids on the neighbouring areas.
Majolica facing of Khiva. The Majolica incrustation of Khiva has its own indistinguishable style. It was made basically in dark and light color tones ranging from dark blue to light blue and white with some strokes of brown. Vegetative motifs of curving vines and leaves are frequently present in these Khiva designs
Metal chasing workshop. Metal chasing and engraving as a type of craft appeared on the territory of Uzbekistan in the 18th century. Starting from the 19th century in practically every city there were opened metal engraving schools with their own distinctive ornamental patterns.In Khiva the masters use deep engraving technology, as well as embossing which gives the same result as chasing. Walking along narrow streets of Khiva, you will find many small workshops, where in your presence the local craftsmen will engrave wonderful designs on the copper tableware.
Wood carving workshop. In the East wood and woodwork have been always prized highly. This natural material is rather rare in areas with hot climate and sandy and clay soil. For centuries local craftsmen and wood carvers developed unique technologies of wood processing and created complicated woodwork items where each millimeter was a real piece of art. These could be various interior decoration elements, furniture, lecterns for books, caskets, snuffboxes, and even doors. Inimitable patterns, labourious work and high quality of wood treatment allow to make an ordinary log an amazing masterpiece.
Folk dance programme in Allah Kuli Khan madrassah. Khiva is renowned for its exciting colourful dances. While visiting Allah Kuli Khan madrassah you can delight in an unforgettable performance of local dance group, who demonstrate high dancing skills to the accompaniment of national musical instruments.