Right after our arrival, Ana Pasha and Sirojiddin Hujamuratov invite us for a tour of the old town of Khiva, called Itchan-Kala, the walled inner town. Sirojiddin was a great help. He obtained a permission to film all public buildings in Uzbekistan from the Ministry of Tourism. From that point on, we had no problems filming.
A wide road leads from West Gate, the largest city gate, across the old town to the Dekhon Bazaar. As we enter, it quickly becomes clear that, if you ever would have had the desire to live in 1001 nights, then you can not imagine a better matching beautiful backdrop.
Not without good reason, the historic center Itchan-Kala was included in the UNESCO World Heritage, in 1990. Since then, it is regarded as an open-air museum, often described as a museum under the blue sky.
History of the town
With the development of the old silk road, Khiva gained its strategic importance. Khiva was founded in the 5th century. Already in the 8th century, the Arabian defense forces conquered the town. After that, the city became a major trading city in Khwarezm.
In the 13th century, Genghis Khan and in the 14th century Amir Timur conquered the city. In the 18th century, Nader Shah, the Shah of Persia conquered the city. For a short time, Khiva was part of the Persian Empire. Otherwise, it was an independent Khanate, from 1512 to 1920. Each conquest led to a destruction of the town.
From 1717 Russia undertook several conquests, but all failed. The troops were lured into ambushes or wiped out. Khiva could not be taken and annexed until 1873. Since 1991 Khiva belongs to the sovereign state of Uzbekistan. In 1997, the city celebrated its 2500th anniversary.
Kalta Minor Minaret
As soon as we enter the street, the Kalta Minaret, the symbol of Khiva, catches our eyes. It was built from 1852 to 1855, then the construction activities were stopped. It should become the highest minaret in the east, with a height of 70 to 80 m. At the base, it has a diameter of 14 m.
The Khan of Bukhara was also interested in such a minaret. So Khan Mohammed Amin Khan decreed to kill the builder after he had finished the construction. When the builder heard that, he fled. By that time, the minaret had reached a height of 29 meters. In fact, the construction may have been stopped because the minaret would probably have collapsed because of lack of bearing capacity.
Orient star Khiva – Madrasa
Behind the minaret is the once largest Madrasa of Khiva.
Today it houses the Orient Star Khiva Hotel.
The West Gate – Ota Darvoza
The mighty gate is the main entrance to the old town. It is it a reconstruction from the 70’s. The original was destroyed in 1920.
Muhammad ibn Musa al Khwarizmi
The monument next to the West Gate commemorates the ingenious universal scholar and mathematician Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi. He introduced the zero in the Arabic numeral system around 800 AD. From his name derives the word algorithm.
We walk back a bit and enjoy the souvenirs and especially the beautiful fur caps offered here (even if this is not ecologically correct).
We arrive at the square where the slave market used to be. The Mohammed Rakhim Khan Medressa and the Kunya-Ark Citadel frame the square. We first visit Kunya-Ark.
The citadel sometimes referred to as a palace, is in the west of the Ichan-Kala. Persian troops destroyed parts of the palace, such as the waiting hall for the ambassadors and the hall for the council of the ruler. The hall for the ruler and his family is still preserved. Tile patterns adorn the two-pillared hall. In the middle of the courtyard is round brick platform. The place for a yurt during the winter time.
In the background stands a silvered throne, where the ruler received his guests. The original is in the Kremlin in Moscow.
Through a narrow corridor, you reach a two-story terrace (Ayvan), which allows an excellent view of the city and the surrounding area. In addition, here you can reach the harem. Its hall looks similar to the hall of the ruler but has three pairs of columns.
In the back area, you can visit the mint and a dungeon.
Mohammed Rakhim Khan Medressa
We change to the Medressa on the other side of the square.
It was completed in 1876, contained 76 cells, making it one of the largest madrasas in Central Asia.
Museum of Ancient Khorezm
We go on to the Museum of Ancient Khorezm. Valuable jewelry for women is shown next to everyday objects and equipment from the municipal history. If the women have always worn the jewelry, they were certainly physically well trained. Interesting in the museum are the old photographs from bygone days.
In our thoughts, we like to associate the Silk Road with merchants, but we forget that there were many gifted craftsmen here too. We watch a workshop where young people work on carved wooden caskets.
In the workshop next to it, one shows us valuable carved doors, which are also delivered to Europe and the USA. Following this, the master demonstrates the manufacture and use of the ingenious bookends, which can be set up and folded together in various positions.
Please read on > Guided tour through the Old Town of Khiva -Part2
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