The Silk Road Journey To Khiva, Uzbekistan

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Whether you’re a Christian or a Muslim, religious or non-religious, Khiva is a sacred place you should consider visiting.

Known by many names, Khiva is not just the center of culture, it’s also one of the few cities that keep on the tradition of living history.

Even under Soviet rule, this city had a sort of protection and was the first city in Uzbekistan to claim its place in the World Heritage list.

Whether it’s the historical monuments that brought you here, the religious sites, or the marvelous architecture, one thing is for sure, Khiva is unforgettable.

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It definitely belongs to the top of the list when it comes to cities in Uzbekistan, as it satisfies the need of everyone, and showcases what’s left of the people that lived long before our time.

Khiva Uzbekistan History

The story of Khiva begins with one of the sons of Noah and the tale of 300 burning torches. If you are to believe ancient history, this might be one of the first cities ever built after the flood. The story is bound by the well, which you can see today in the old sacred part of the city. However, when it comes to official scripts, Khiva is mentioned in the 10th century in the Muslim travel scriptures. The archeological findings confirm the city existed long before that. It was populated by several different cultures before becoming majorly Turkic in terms of language and culture.

Since the 17th century, the city served as a capital to Khanate of Khiva, which allowed the city to remain the way it was, as it prospered. One of the best moves was to build a settlement around the city walls of the old town, which kept it enacted but also gave it a sacred role. Later on, visitors could also enjoy impressive monuments built in the settlement, while the old town inside the city remained the main attraction.

When it comes to recent history, the city being in Central Asia, suffered the Russian occupation. However, unlike the other cities, it received the honorable protectorate, that kept all the monuments preserved up until this day. While the October Revolution sparked a socialist thought in Khiva city as well, their own Republic lasted shortly and soon it united forces with Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic which redefined modern-day Uzbekistan.

Things To Do In Khiva

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Itchan Kala

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A true fortress that speaks to your soul, not crowded, but filled with tales and legends. One thing about Itchan Kala will always be the same, the vibrant local life and the fact that the place is a popular site for wedding photos, as it’s believed to bring good luck to newlyweds. In any case, this walled city along the silk road has aver 50 monumental structures to see. The inner town is home to the Citadel Kunya, Djuma Mosque, Stone Palace, and the well that the tale of the city is based on. Itchan Kala, a UNESCO heritage center, remains one of the favorite attractions in Khiva.

Kalta Minor Minaret

Kalta Minor Minaret
Kalta Minor Minaret

A short, yet enormous, minaret stands before the facade of the Muhammad Amin-khan Madrassah. The stunning colors and unique decoration will amaze you. Its foundation is 15 meters and only stands 29 meters high. It was supposed to tower 70 meters in the air, however, work stopped after the ruler Muhammad Amin Khan was killed in 1855. There are several interesting legends regarding the minaret.

Pakhlavan Makhmud Mausoleum

Pakhlavan Makhmud Mausoleum

While the building is considered a mausoleum, you’ll be surprised at how vibrant the place is. Structured in the name of a Muslim scholar Pakhlavan Makhmud, the place is still home to those seeking guidance. You’ll be able to experience a living spirit of Islam, given the locals pray and read verses out loud while you’re allowed to listen. It certainly leaves you baffled and enchanted for a moment, no matter the religion you follow, and the colorful tiles only heighten the experience.

Friday Mosque

Uzbekistan, Khiva, walled city of Itchan Kala, listed as World Heritage by UNESCO, finely chiselled colonnade of Juma Masjid Mosque
The walled city of Itchan Kala – Image by © Paule Seux/Hemis/Corbis

The mosque will definitely question your usual views, as it features wooden pillars instead of stone ones. While it’s more of a sacred place for the Muslim community, it also is a building you can easily relate to Spain, as the structure reminds of the mosques turned churches in Spain. In any case, it’s a place that also comes with the tale, which makes it worthy of a visit.

Tash Khauli

Tash Khauli

The place that many marks as the monument to a ruler, Tash Khauli is the palace of the Khan, and the place where you’ll be able to enjoy the exquisite work of art, from mosaics to the carved wooden ceilings. Also, the place where you’ll be able to learn more about their history and the way they lived.

Ota Darvoza

Ota Darvoza

The place that serves for the local festivals, Ota Darvoza is impressive work of architecture, even though it’s simple comparing to other sites. It does have a grand entrance, but apart from that, it doesn’t offer much when it’s not hosting the festival.

Nurullaboy Saroyi

Nurullaboy Saroyi

While you may not be able to witness the glory of the Khans here, the place does have something to offer and that is the historical monument to the bloody side of history. With the remains of old times left to decay, the building serves as a living reminder of where the Soviets established their rule, given this is the place where the last Khan died at the hands of people.

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Day Trips From Khiva

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When it comes to the places outside Khiva, they aren’t as popular for tourists. However, locals cherish the Ancient Khorezm, the ruins of the old fortress. If you’re up for the local history, and the view of the desert that lies beyond, you may consider this while in Khiva. After all, the desert has its charm, and nature calls to the selected few.

There are some other great cities to visit in Uzbekistan. However, they are not day trips. You will want to stay a few days in Bukhara, Samarkand, Andijan, and Tashkent. The Fergana Valley would be a great day trip from Tashkent or Andijan. The massive valley spreads through Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

How To Get To Khiva Uzbekistan

There is Urgench International Airport in which Uzbekistan Airways flies to a number of countries and other cities throughout Uzbekistan. You can book flights through Uzbekistan Airlines or several other airlines. The airport is not very close to the city center, so you’ll have the option of taking a taxi, a train or a bus into the city.

Uzbekistan railways are a convenient and inexpensive way to travel throughout the country. Some trains do sell out, so you should book your seat in advance.

Additional Information

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Khiva is a city for history lovers, and it’s preserved more than the others in Uzbekistan. However, the clash of Soviet rule and the old times left a trace on the local community. The Uzbekistan people still have the spirit, but you can see they’re divided. It appears Uzbekistan tourism is on an increase with more people visiting Khiva, however fewer people are living in this Uzbekistan city. So, don’t be surprised if you catch yourself all alone admiring the old city.

Uzbekistan Facts

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What is the Uzbekistan Capital?

  • Tashkent is the capital of Uzbekistan.

What is the Uzbekistan currency?

  • Uzbekistani soʻm

What are the colors of the Uzbekistan flag?

  • The flag features a new moon symbol and one white star for every month of the year. The blue is representative of water and sky; white represents peace; green represents the fertile land, and the two red stripes are symbolic of the people.

Do I need an Uzbekistan Visa?

  • Canadian, British, US, and many other nationals require a visa to visit Uzbekistan. An e-visa is now available. For more information and to apply for an e-visa click here.

Where is Uzbekistan?

  • Uzbekistan is bordered by five landlocked countries: Kazakhstan to the north; Kyrgyzstan to the northeast; Tajikistan to the southeast; Afghanistan to the south; and Turkmenistan to the southwest.

What is the Uzbekistan weather like?

  • Uzbekistan has an extreme continental climate. Like many countries, it is generally warmer in the south and colder in the north. Extreme temperature fluctuations happen between winter and summer. The temperatures can be as low as -35°C (-31°F) during the winter and as high as 45°C (113°F) during the summer. Humidity levels are low.

What is the time in Uzbekistan?

  • The time in Uzbekistan is 5 hours ahead of UTC, UTC+05:00. They do not use daylight savings time.

What is the main Uzbekistan religion?

  • Sunni Islam is the main religion in Uzbekistan. It accounts for 93% of the population of the country with the exception of 1% of Shia Muslims mostly living in the territory of Samarkand and Bukhara. Christianity is the other religion with the most followers. 4% are Orthodox and 3% are Catholic.

What is the official Uzbekistan language?

  • The official language in Uzbek is a Turkic language. About 32 million people speak the language in Uzbekistan and throughout Central Asia.

What is the Uzbekistan population?

  • Based on the UN estimates (as of November 26th, 2018) the population of Uzbekistan is 32,544,736 people.

Who is the Uzbekistan president?

  • Shavkat Miromonovich Mirziyoyev is the current president of Uzbekistan since 2016. Previously he was the Prime Minister of Uzbekistan from 2003 to 2016.

What is the Uzbekistan country code?

  • The country code is +998

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