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Khiva E-mail
Asia - Uzbekistan
20 August 2010



Click images to view galleries part 1 and 2

The city of Khiva more than compensated our disappointment with Uzbekistan's capital Toshkent earlier. It's a small city in Xorazm province and archeological data confirm the city was established early in the current era. It's the former capital of Khwarezmia (Khorezm) and the Khanate of Khiva.

Khiva is split into two parts. The outer town, called Dichan Kala, was formerly protected by a wall with 11 gates. The inner town, or Itchan Kala (listed as a UNESCO world heritage site since 1991) is encircled by brick walls, whose foundations are believed to have been laid in the 10th century. Present-day crenellated walls date back to the late 17th century and attain the height of 10 meters.

The large blue tower in the central city square was supposed to be a minaret, but the Khan died and the succeeding Khan did not complete it; perhaps he realized that if completed, the minaret would overlook his harem and the muezzin would be able to see the Khan's wives. Construction was thus halted and the minaret remains unfinished to this day.

The old town retains more than 50 historic monuments and 250 old houses, mostly dating from the 18th or the 19th centuries. Djuma Mosque, for instance, was established in the 10th century and rebuilt in 1788-89, although its celebrated hypostyle hall still retains 112 columns taken from ancient structures.