Khiva: A Door to the East and West

Today Khiva is an open air museum. When I walked through the gate of its inner city of homes of mud brick construction the very dull clay colored walls transport me to another era when this city was a major city on the silk road whose much wealth was obtained through slave trade.

Eastern gate market, which today is a city market, was the site of such humanity. The city was noted in the medieval period for it barbaric cruelty. My guide said for minor infractions of Islamic law you could be thrown off the high minarets to your death. For adultery the woman was tied up in a sack with wild cats who clawed her to death and then body was thrown into the river. Such cruelty persisted until it came under the Imperial Russia who put an end to this rampant barbarism and brought a greater sense of a site of such inhumanity. And Russia brought education, development of industry and electricity and many other benefits according to my guide.

The morning tour began at the palace with a climb to the top of a tower which affords great views of the city.

The Bible says the city was founded by Shem, the son of Noah, who discovered a well here.

It did not play an important role on the trade route until Timer devastated Kony Urgench and then the Uzbek Shaybanidsand made Khiva their capital in 1592 and established the major industry until almost 1900 which was the slave trade.


The turquoise minaret is the unfinished work Amin Kahn who in 1851 dreamed of building the tallest minaret in the world however he died before completion hence its fat look.

Khiva091339 Juma mosque or the Friday mosque has 218 wooden columns supporting its roof. Several of the wooden columns are from the 10th century.

Khiva093512Some of the most interesting buildings are Madrassas, that is, Islamic schools of instruction. Those in the old city are hotels and restaurants today. Notice the beautiful tile work.

Allakuli built the Tosh Hovli palace in 1832-1841 with beautiful tiles, wood and stone. My guide said the Khan executed the architect because he did not meet the deadline for completion.

The mausoleum of Pahlavon exhibits beautiful tile work. He is revered by the Muslims as a holy man. So you come and pray to him so God gives you what you request.


Khiva093450    Khiva095533