“The slave capital of Central Asia”.
Where is Khiva?
The city of Khiva is a town in the western province of Khorezm in the Republic of Uzbekistan. It’s 35 km from the regional capital of Urgench and only 5 km from the border of Turkmenistan.
Khiva is one of the many historical sites on the Great Silk Road. With a long brutal, and barbaric history. A vital stop-off. Formerly a slave-trading post where camels, carpets, coffee, and concubines were traded.
It may, therefore, be a bit of a surprise to learn that it was not on our original list of places to visit in Uzbekistan.
Thank goodness we changed our minds and decided to include it.
The journey from Aktau to Khiva was on the overnight sleeper train and in a taxi.
In Khiva, we stayed at the Khiva Abdulla Guesthouse. Within the city walls, the outside looks as if its constructed from mud. Bits of straw poking out from the external wall finish. Inside, we had a good-sized modern, clean room and bathroom. Our hosts couldn’t have been more friendly or helpful. Breakfast served upstairs and is very sumptuous.
Places of interest
The amazing walled city is crammed full of museums, mosques, and wonderful architecture.
Split into two parts. The outer town, Dichan Kala, was formerly protected by a wall with 11 gates. Some of which are still standing. The inner town, Itchan Kala is encircled by huge 10m high walls, dating from the late 17th century. The old town has more than 50 historic monuments and 250 old houses, mostly dating from the 18th or 19th centuries.
The main entrance into the city is via the Ata Darvoza Gate. Literally translated meaning the Gate of the Father. It’s located on the Western side of the city wall. There are a car park and ticket office at this gate. Buy tickets here to enter the city museums, and go up the Minaret.
There are 3 entrance prices, tickets being valid for 2 days.
Which includes city entrance, all museum entrance, and Minaret tower entrance costs 150,000 Som.
Standard entrance ticket
Which includes city entrance and all museum entrance, but not the Minaret, City Wall, or Watchtower, costs 100,000 Som.
Economy entrance ticket
Which allows entrance to the city only costs 50,000 Som.
If you only want to look around the inside of the city wall and not go into any of the museums. Enter through the North, East, or South gates. There are no ticket offices or barriers at these gates. A short walk from the West gate could save you the entrance fee.
There is a luggage storage facility within the city wall as well.
Khiva has so much to offer. It isn’t possible to list all the buildings and architecture that we saw. There is just so much to see. These could be listed, but in all honesty, just wander around. Explore and you will find amazing architecture, stunning buildings, and fascinating history.
The Kalta Minor is the unfinished minaret close to the west entrance to the Ichan Kala.
Intended to be 70m, its final height is a mere 26m. Covered from top to bottom in dazzling blue-green tiles. Laid in a variety of geometric patterns.
The colossal 80m x 80m “Stone Palace” is in the southeast of the Ichan Kala. The palace architect was impaled for advising the Khan he couldn’t build the palace in two years. The palace took eight years to complete. The replacement architect didn’t dare mention to the Khan how long it would take. With three courtyards and more than 270 rooms, the palace has carved wooden pillars and distinctive blue mosaics.
Kuhha Ark Fortress
A fortified citadel sited in the heart of Khiva just to the north of the city’s west gate. The largest of Khiva’s myriad of buildings. Flanked by two towers is the fortress’s main entrance. Within, the fortress, the layout has been designed around courtyards.
This mosque contains 212 ornately carved wooden columns supporting its roof. Carvings, covering the columns in leaves and flowers.
For a view take the steps to the top of the Juma minaret, which is accessed from inside.
Mohammed Amin Khan Madrassah
Now the Khiva Hotel. Located in the east of the fortified district of Itchan Kala. It was the largest madrasa in Central Asia, with the capacity to accommodate 260 students.
Vehicles are not permitted in the Ichon Qala. Walking from sight to sight is the only way around. The city is so compact makes it very easy to wander around and see that the city has to offer.