ANOTHER OF THE GREAT silk road era cities, Khiva’s monuments are mostly contained within the walls of the Ichon Qala (Old City).
A city here dates back to Shem, son of ark builder, Noah, and is referenced in 10th century Arab chronicles. Ethinc Persian were replaced by Turkic speakers, and then in 1511, a band of nomadic Uzbek tribes established the Khanate of Khiva. The capital was moved here in the 17th century from Konye-Urgench (Turkmenistan), and despite struggles within and with Bukhara, held power until the Russians came in the 20th century. This compact town is packed with mosques, madrasahs and minarets of exquisite beauty.
While at time Khiva feels like a museum, it is living city, and outside the city walls, you can meet people like mother & son samosa team here.
Hundreds of old buildings, including 50 of historical signifigance like the Mohammed Rakhim Khan madrasah fill the walls.
The Khan hope to see Bukhara from the 70m top, but died and the Kalta Minor Minaret project stopped. The 26m base dominates the centre of the Ichon Qala (old city).
The tapaered design of the Islam Khoja Minaret tricks the viewer's sense of its height.
Guests are often welcome to sticky-beak in traditional workshops, which have seen a post-Soviet revival.
A young man carries on the family trade under his father's watchful eye.
213 karagacha (black elm) columns in a grid configuration in the 18th century Jamu mosque are a testament of the cultrual heights Khiva reached.
The finest craftsmen from conquered regions worked on Khiva's buildings, as seen here in the Kuhna Ark Fortress.
An intricate celing design in Kuhna Ark Fortress.
A humble sweep cleans where great rulers once met their guests.
The fortress is originally from 12th century, but expanded 17th. A series of tunnels and staircases lead to studies and chambers, and of course, defensive walls.
This small room may have been the study chamber of the Khan himself.
Tosh-hovli Palace is another fine example of Islamic and central Asian design.
A series of balconies line a simple, but finely decorated courtyard.
A mosque, madrasah and very prominent minaret built in 1910 are named after Islam Khodja, the grand vizier of Muhammad Rahmi Bahadur II, ruler of Khiva from 1864-1910.
Stout walls and gates kept Khiva safe. Polvon-Darvoza (Strongman’s Gate) in the east conatins bazaars, and leads to an outdoor bazaar as well.
Residents and traders move through the gates as they have for centuries.
In a region with many of the world's greatest markets, Khiva's barely rates a mention, but is always worth a look.
Local residents have learned to take the tourist stream in their stride.
Deep inside the Ichon Qala, signs of everyday life, food hanging out to dry.
Feeling madrasa-fatigue, I almost walked by, but inside I found a gallery of modern surrealist works. Surprise!
The wooden pillared Jamu mosque is reminiscent of old Arab style mosques, and with no windows, the simple, cool, dark hall contrasts drastically with extravagant affairs of the region.
Virtually every building inside the city walls is a time capsule.
Old Khivan currency in a museum. Many of the smaller madrasah have been repurposed for galleries, museums and traditional workshops.
Another fine, ornate ceiling.
Tile work in either Kuhna Ark or Tosh Hovli. Maybe.
The dome of the Pahlavan Mahmud Mausoleum, built 1810-25, for the Iranian poet and wrestler (?!) who died in 1326.
Mohammad Rakhim Khan Madrasa is one of the larger complexes in Khiva.
A soldier locks down the history museum in the late summer evening.
Solid walls and doors kept not only residents safe, but protected the merchants and caravans that brought wealth via tax revenue.
The walls now provide the perfect vantage point to gaze of the wonders of the silk roads.
A statue honours mathematician Al-Kwarizimi, sitting deep in thought outside the city gates.
Despite the quantity and quality of Khiva's monuments, 2 or 3 days would be enough to enjoy the city.