Itchan Kala was the first World Heritage Site inscribed in 1990. Itchan Kala is a walled city in Khiva and is the largest surviving wall city in the Central part of Asia. The City was traditionally known as Khorezm and was an important stop on the Silk Road. Its significance made it subject to different occupations. It was under the Timurid Empire that many of Khiva’s cities rose to prosperity. The city’s rulers, the Khans of Khiva, built the wall to keep off colonial threats. Itchan Kala was preserved by Russian colonial rulerd and is a cultural heritage in modern day Uzbekistan.
Khiva is included in the list of the wealth common to Mankind. It is one of the ancient cities of Central Asia that saved its unique architecture formed in the last two centuries. But the real age of Khiva goes deep to the history breaking the time-borders of our Epoc.
Khiva is like a fairy-tale town. Capital of Khiva Khanate in the 17th century, it has still retained the exotic flavour of a medieval town which time has not destroyed.
There is a legend according to which Khiva was founded that time when Shem the son of Noi has found the wealth here. People started to call this place Khivak reffered to Khiva.
Khiva the pearl of the Khorezm oasis impresses one with its beauty. A complete immersion into the past, concentrated and compressed into a comparatively small space enclosed by fortress walls this is Khiva. Here you can listen to the sounds of past centuries: the shouts of traders, the negotiations of buyers, the noise of crafters' workshops, the calls for evening prayer.
In modern Samarkand, amongst a wealth of historical monuments, visitors constantly "fall" from the past to the present, in Bukhara they cross the streets of history from century to century, but in Khiva they are transported to the past "forever" leaving behind the massive walls of the Ichan-Kala "a town within a town".
The Ichan-Kala surrounded by fortress walls with four gates facing in all four directions is the centre of the city. Here you may walk through the narrow streets touching the roughness of the old walls, passing under arches of buildings into the cool shade of ancient trees.
Let us climb up to the Akshi-Bobo bastion used by guards to patrol and protect the city. From here the Ichan-Kala is clearly visible.
About 20 medrassahs high-education schools are preserved in Khiva. Medrassah Mukhammad Amin-khan is the biggest one. Really remarkable peculiarity it its coupled khudjars special cells for students' living.
The Juma-Mosque is very beautiful. The date of its construction still is clearly written on the entrance: 1778/82. The 210 columns supporting the roof are very old: from the 12-15th centuries. These columns come from other ancient constructions. The columns are admired because of their intricate ornamentation.
There are many wonderful buildings outside the walls of the ancient town. The whole oasis of Khorezm is rich in memorials. Deep in the Karakum Desert, scientists found a large town, Kuzeli-Gyr, dating back 2500. A canal flowed towards the town and a deep moat surrounded the fortress. As the water disappeared, life in the town died and today only sand dunes and the grief of past centuries remains.
There are so many medressahs and mosques big and small located in the limited territory of the town that its is hard to believe while walking through the labyrinth of the oldest past of the town that a modern city churns with life just a few yards away.
Must see places in Khiva
The medressah is not so great with a traditional architecture but the main facade is covered with a rich decoration. The majestic 45-metre Minaret Islam-Khoja can be seen from everywhere. It is narrow at the top, with a lantern-shaped top crowned with a small cupola.
Close to the Muhammad Amin-khan Medressah it was started construction of minaret, which according to the khan's idea should be the highest one in Khiva. But because of the khan's death the construction of the minaret was not completed. That is the reason for its title Kalta Minor ("Short Minaret"). Its massive trunck coming thinner on top, is decorated with glazed bricks.
It is the oldest one in Khiva. It is located in the centre of Ichan-Kala, representing very big building without any decoration. It was constructed by slaves captured by Shigaziz-khan in his march to Khorasan. They were promised to be released after completing construction. But Shirgazi-khan delayed work and in 1726 the insurgent slaves killed him in the unfinished medressah. His mausoleum adjoins the building's main facade.
Medressah Mukhammad Amin-khan
It is the largest one in Khiva. The main characteristic of the medreassah is its hudjras (special little rooms where students live). The facade of the building is made of coloured bricks and mosaic.
It is majestic in its beauty. The date of its construction 1778/82 is inscribed above the gates. The mosque's 212 wooden columns supporting the roof are older, dating back to the 12—15th centuries. They were recovered from other old buildings that were destroyed.
It is a part of ensemble and located near the eastern gates of Ichan-Kala. The mosque represents the monumental domed hall surrounded by wooden aiwan from three sides. Foundations of the mosque were laid in 1657. As for the existing building, it was constructed in 1838—1842.
To the south-east from the Shirgaziz-khan Medressah there is a small but very outstanding building of local quartal mosque Bogbonli. It was built in the 19th century, but for its aiwan the covered wooden columns of the 15th century were used.
Seid Allauddin Mausoleum
This grown into the ground double-room monument is located between medressahs Mukhammad-Amin-khan and Matniyaz-Divan-Begi. A small burial vault with the unique majolica tombstone was constructed in the first part of the 14th century and in the 19th century it was added by spacious hall — ziaratkhona with a portal entrance.
The Akshi-Bobo Bastion
Rising above Khiva, it was used an observing area for frontier guards. The khan palace Kurinish-khana used for official meetings was here the main building. The walls of the building were faced with a rich majolica ornamented with vegetables and fruits.
It was built in memory of this respected Khivan poet. After his death he was considered a saintly protector of the city. Pakhlavan Makhmud's grave and the mausoleum of Khiva's khans are part of this complex.
Makhmud Rakhim-khan Palace
It is located in the territory of Old Fortress, known as the Kunya Ark. Walls of the palace were decorated with painted frescos. Nearby is a harem, a two-story building with many richly decorated halls and rooms.