The Ancient City That Could Steal Your Heart

The Ancient City That Could Steal Your Heart
A view of Khiva, Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Khiva has often been called an ‘outdoor museum’ and is one of the prettiest cities in Uzbekistan

OT Staff
June 04 , 2019
02 Min Read

Khiva is an heiress of the great ancient world. Being one of the most longstanding Asian cities, Khiva was established in the 5th century BCE. Did you know that Yichan Kala, one of the main parts of the city, was the first attraction from Uzbekistan to be included in the Unesco World Heritage List in 1991? Historians are still exploring this ancient part of the city which is almost 1,200 sq m in area. Along with Samarkhand and Bukhara, Khiva was an ancient site on the Silk Road.

The sacred atmosphere

The name Khiva is mentioned in the Hoary chronicles of the 10th century BCE. In addition, Arab scholar Al Istakhriy introduced Khiva as part of the ‘30 largest cities’ of the time. And in a clandestine message for Khudaiberdiy, Khiva was characterised as "another fortress that founded on sand by son of Noah, and known as Kheivak".

Khiva is the most popular city in the Khorezm region. In Khoresm, the source of life is a deep river called Amu Darya (Oxus is another name that has great historical value.

The historical monuments in the city are very different than ones found elsewhere in the country because the architecture here is still preserved in all its old glory. The beauty and grandeur will impress even the most discerning traveller.

Tall and elegant minarets, grandiose madrasahs and mosques, bustle and colour of the bazaars, warm hospitality, fabulous legends, medieval palaces and mausoleums, ancient traditions of the local people and the endless sands of the Kyzyl Kum desert will leave a lasting impression in the memory of tourists.

An ornate door in Itchan kala

What to see in Khiva

You will be stunned by the incredible ancient buildings in Khiva. The arches, different patterns, and use of marble takes one back in time. The beauty is difficult to put into words, one needs to go and feel it.

The history of the city is multifaceted and exciting. Near the modern city of Khiva, visitors can see more than 50 ancient forts: Ayaz Kala, Kala Guldursun, Kizil-Kala Ellik Kala, and Toprak-Kala among others.

The city is often called an outdoor museum and is divided into two parts: Itchan kala and Dichon-qala.

Modern architecture blends with a historical atmosphere. In Khiva, see the Kutli Murad Inak Medressa and the Khan Anush Mohammed’s Bath which is considered an interesting building from the 17 th century. There is also the palace called Tash Chauli. Khiva has a lot of mosques and medressas, each unique in its own way. Khiva is famous for bazaars, which since ancient times have been the busiest parts of the city, especially crowded on Sundays. One can purchase beautiful carpets, embroidered goods, ceramics, instruments and wooden knick-knacks apart from other items.

Carpets at a local bazaar in Khiva

Getting there: Fly to Tashkent from New Delhi via Uzbekistan Airways. From Tashkent, take an overnight train to Khiva (Urganch is the railhead)

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