Khiva - the successor of the great era.
A legendary Khiva is considered to be a tourist "visiting card" of a modern Uzbekistan, a living heiress and the last capital of the great civilization of ancient Khorezm.  Although the main "tourist sites" are quite "young” (XVIII-XIX centuries AD), however the town itself has a very advanced age, and its fate is inextricably connected with the emergence, the assertion and the decline of a powerful state of Khorezmshah.
Khiva is located on the western part of Khorezm region, in the center of the Karakum desert, on the left bank of the Amu Darya River. At different times and eras it was called differently: Horasmia and Hvarezm, also it was was known as Khorezm for a long time.
There are a lot of legends about the origin of the town and its name, which are in one way or another connected with the name of Sim - the son of the famous biblical Noah. The most credible says, that the town sprang up around the well in V-IV century, dug in his order. Water in this well, called Kheyvak, had a peculiar taste and stayed cool even in the most intense heat. Firstly at a blessed place a caravanserai was settled, in the length of time it grow and finally turned into the city.
By the way, even nowadays this well can be seen in the north-western wall of Ichon-Qala.
Originally Khiva was not a state capital, it was a huge commercial city, situated on one of the caravan routes of the Great Silk Road between Merv and Urgench, then the capital of the Khorezm (Gurgandzh, now it is named Old Urgench). But nature intervened in its fate. In 1598 year, Amu Darya River showed its cool temperament and retreated from Urgench (Gurganj). Although it happened before, for centuries the river changed its course for several times, but this time the tragedy occurred. The unprecedented drought and the inability to rebuild the city after a devastating campaign of Tamerlane, forced the ruler of Khorezm to move the capital to a new location. Thus, Khiva became the capital, and Khorezm - a Khiva Khanate. Today, 150 kilometers from Khiva city, on the territory of modern Turkmenistan, the ancient ruins of the once great Urgench (Gurganj) lay.
The time of moving the capital was not the best for Khorezm. However, after some time a period of the decline passed and Khiva in a short period managed to win the status of spiritual, scientific and cultural center of the Islamic world.
After the bloody wars and internal strikes Khiva Khanate impoverished quite much and the local rulers could replenish the treasury at the expense of countless raids on neighboring states (Persia and southern Russia), by capturing trade missions and selling into slavery a captured prisoners. There were the largest slave markets in Khiva and Bukhara. According to the scientists, until the middle of the XIX century, it was a "predatory state".
For this reason, in 1873 during a major military operation, the Russian Empire annexed the part of the Khiva Khanate. The city of Khiva was captured by Russian forces and joined the Amu Darya region of Turkestan. The slave trade was suppressed.
In 1919 year the last khan of Khiva was overthrown by the power of the Red Army.
In 1991year, the Khiva city and part of the Khorezm oasis gained independence like the part of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

Today Khiva is an open air museum, rightly claiming the title of "the eighth wonder of the world." And it's justified, because none of tourist town except that one, could carry to this day its treasures in the original form.
Extant architectonics of Khiva suggests that it was based on the principle which was characteristic for all the walled cities of the ancient East. The core of the city was considered to be a business center or shahristan, but shopping and residential suburbs, named rabads were located on the outskirts of the city, enclosed by a high city wall.
The inner fortress of Khiva city (shahristan) named Ichon-Qala accommodates everything which considered to be the most interesting in this tourist Mecca. The ancient settlement area, which exceeds 26 hectares, is very densely built, so all the monuments, most of which are dated back to XIX century, are very compact. A clay wall length is over 2 kilometers and a thickness of it up to 6 meters has four gates oriented to the cardinal points, separates shahristan from rabad. About 60 historic structures remained in the Ichon-Qala.
Having entered the inner city through the western gate (Darvaza-Ata) travelers could see a great view. On the left side the ancient citadel of Kun-Ark is located, some fragments of which belong to the fifth century. On the right side is the Madrasah of Muhammad Amin Khan. A little bit ahead one will be able to see a grand minaret of Kalta Minar. And closer to the center a Madrassah of Muhammad Rahim Khan II stands.
Toward to the eastern gate (Pahlavan-Darvaza) Tash Hauli palace and Madrasah of Alla-Kuli Khan are situated. On the southern side of the town, not far from the gate (Darvaza-Tash), there are Madrassah of Shergazi Khan, an exquisite mausoleum of Pahlavan Mahmud, mausoleum of Said Allauddin, as well as the minaret and the mosque of Islam Hoja.
The complex of buildings of Ichon-Qala is not perceived as a complete ensemble since it was created as a vital necessity. But even in such a diverse cluster of buildings, it could be easily notice a pictorial architectural masses and the fascinating variety of silhouettes. And most importantly, it exemplifies an ancient feudal oriental city.
By the way, the architectural reserve of Ichon-Qala is not a "dead" exposure. On the territory of the complex 30 families of the urban artisans inhabit, and many architectural buildings are open  as exhibitions and museums.
An exterior fortress (rabad) called Dishan Qala preserved not as good as shahristan. Unfortunately, only the gate and crumbling fragments of the outer wall left from it. Dishan-Kala was built on the order of Allah Kuli Khan in 1842 year in order to protect the city from the attacks of the Turkmen tribes. More than 200 thousand people participated in the construction, therefore, after only three years, a raising of the external strengthening was completed. General size of Dishan Kala is impressive: the length of the wall is 5650 meters, the height is  8 meters, the thickness of the walls at the base is about  4-6 meters. It is noteworthy that the clay for the building was taken not far, just 2 kilometers from the city in a place of Govuk-kul. Nowadays a large lake that is considered to be holy is splashing at this place. Such clay from this place up to this day is in great demand with local potters and as professionals state, has excellent qualities. Not without reason, as it is claimed in the rumors, Muhammad Prophet, when he was building Medina, sent for the clay into these places.
Much more can be told about the legendary city, but believe me, it is useless to describe Khiva only by words, it should be seen! The real oriental fairy tale is to admire the soaring minarets, to wander through the crooked streets paved with chipped stone, to admire the carved wooden columns of magnificent madrasas, to pay tribute to a lacy mosaic of mausoleums and simply to touch by own hand to the rough surface of the centuries-old earthen walls!

Historical and architectural monuments of Khiva
Ancient citadel located near the western gate of Ichon-Qala (Ata-Darvaza), once was the core of the old city. On its territory the ruins of the castle of Akshih-baba are well reserved, which used to unify a group of yards with domestic buildings. Among them are: kurnysh -khana (Reception of Khan), a summer mosque, mint and a building of harem that was built-later.
Attention is drawn to light carved wooden pillars of summer mosque, made in the unique manner of Khiva carvers and the walls, covered with a rare beauty of majolica cladding.
Madrasah of Muhammad Aminkhan (1851-1855 years)
Once the largest religious school (not only in size but in scope) throughout Central Asia is located just a little to the south of the gate of Ichon-Qala (Ata-Darvaza). In the ancient time huge sums of money from the treasury were tributed on the content of the clergy, workers and students. The madrasas held 125 hujras located around the perimeter of the yard on two floors, several training rooms, a mosque and storerooms.
The religious school was erected in the period when a construction and an architectural decoration in Khiva experienced the ascent, thus, the building of Madrasah reflected all skills of architects and decorators: a grandiose monumental portal, two-story arched wings, ended with corner towers, an abundant majolica cladding. Not for nothing there is a proud inscription on the portal of this madrasas: "This wonderful building will stand forever for the joy of future generations ..."
Kalta Minar
An unfinished minaret, rich decorated with colored majolica has a diameter of 14.5 meters and a height of 26 meters. I is located next to the Madrasah of Muhammad Aminkhan and considered to be a unified architectural ensemble. The minaret was conceived as the tallest building in Khiva, but was not completed in connection with the death of the Muhammad Aminkhan ruler. The people believe that God punished the governor in such way, because it is known for sure that after the Khan laid the "first stone" into the base of the minaret he killed a man.
During two years the builders of the complex were working from the night until dawn without receiving payment for their work. The family and the work that gave money for their living were left. Thus, confusion started to spread. For this, a leader of the poor people, named Matyakub from Shavat city was caught and punished.
By the order of the governor, the rebel was wrapped into a wet sheep skin and laid, still alive, in the foundation of the ill-fated minaret. Then, on the top it was put a plate with the historic words: "Words of the king are the king of the words" ....

Madrasah of Muhammad Rahimkhan (1871 year)
An architectural monument in the Ichon-Qala, located a little to the eastern area of Kunya-Ark. Rahimkhan Muhammad II (1847-1910 years) was an enlightened ruler of Khiva Khanate, philosopher and poet, popularly known under the pen name as Firuz. Being an ardent supporter of art and literature, Firuz became the first to introduce lithographic edition of books in Central Asia.
The building of this Madrasah includes two courtyards. The outside one consists of single-storey cells named hujras in the depth of which the two-storey main facade of Madrasah stands, and a cozy inner courtyard with arched range of hujras. Madrasah consists of classrooms, summer and winter mosque, library and utility rooms. Despite an external monumentality of the facade, it is clearly seen a desire of the architect to make a visitor’s stay in the Madrasah be comfortable and cosh.

Mausoleum of Said Alauddin (presumably the XIV-th century)
This building is considered to be one of the earliest monuments of the historic part of the city. Till nowadays, it came in a somewhat distorted and converted form. An original appearance and exact date of construction is conjectural.
It is known that Sheikh Said Alauddin died, according to the inscription on the tomb, in 1303 year, but the mausoleum could be built only in the second half of the XIV-th century, since its construction is used to be associated with the name of Amir Kul, who died in 1380 year.
The Mausoleum was rebuilt several times. Thus, by the order of Allakulikhan (1825 – 1842 years), from the west to the tomb a square building called ziyarathana was attached, and respectively the entrance into the complex was also rebuilt. Later, near the respected shaikh a Khiva Khan Said Muhammadhan (1819 – 1863 years) was buried. It was built a common dakhma for two graves. It was an elevated base and two tombstones called sagans, on it.
The architecture of the mausoleum is quite interesting, but not very bright. Walls, domes, tromp – everything was made of brick and had no any decoration. However, one’s attention can be easily attracted by a rich trimming of tombstones. A facing with colored majolica was made in the best traditions of the art of XIV century Khorezm, although it was paved in the 60 years of the XIX century.

Juma Mosque
Friday mosque was always the most significant building in the Muslim city and an object of city planners’ particular concern. Among the famous mosques in Central Asia, Juma mosque of Khiva differs with its archaism and unnecessary traditional nature. This is a huge (45X55meters) room of rectangular form, situated under a flat roof and surrounded by a blank wall, which has three entrances. The mikhrab niche indicating the direction of prayers’ departure is placed in the southern wall. A perpetual twilight reigns in the hall, as the hatches - the slots on the roof can not manage with the lighting of such a large space.
One might find this structure boring and grim, if there was not a significant stroke of the decor - wooden columns. The number of columns in the mosque is more than 200. Different in size, architectural form and time of manufacture, all of them are sharing one feature - a gorgeous filigree carving on wood.
All columns have quite a little conventional physical similarity. This fact tells that it is most likely that all of them were donation of believers for the construction of the temple. A different age of the columns tells the same. Probably, in course of time, the columns which became unusable, were replaced. The oldest of them are expected to refer to X-XIV century. They have pronounced features of ancient Khorezm architecture: canted trunks, small capitals with some trumpet, bases of “kuzagi”, ornamented with descending leaves and many fragments with repeated floral motive.

Mausoleum of Pahlavan Mahmud (XIV century)
A memorial complex which grew at a small secular cemetery behind the Juma mosque is closely associated with the name of Pahlavan Mahmud. Being a poet, philosopher, freedom fighter, an unsurpassed master of sewing fur coats, Pahlavan Mahmud (1247-1326 years) was buried in his home-studio. The master was a kind of talisman for the city, and eventually, a cemetery of noble families - his admirers, grew around the mausoleum.
In the XIX century, a construction of the mausoleums for Khorezmshahs began near the complex. Thus, the graves of the earlier dead khans were moved into a newly built building. By 1825 year, all the rooms of the memorial were completely covered with colored majolica of typical Khiva ornament. Today, green domes of the necropolis gleaming in the sunlight, from afar attract curious gaze of visitors.

Bathhouses of Anushkhan (1657year)
Eastern bathhouses - hammams have deep historical and technological traditions of the construction. The baths in Khiva, built under the rule of Abulgazikhan in 1657 year are one of them. Hammams represent a particular interest for the history of Khiva architecture, because they are the earliest architectural monument of such a purpose.
The monument has a popular nickname - Bathhouses of Anushkhan.
Traditionally, all the rooms of the eastern baths are recessed into the ground, there are only low domes visible above the surface. In this way, an isolation of the walls could be kept well.
Going down the small stairs, we find ourselves into the first room, which served as a place of rest and dressing room. Then through a range of halls, where the temperature rises gradually, we fall into a central one, the proper place where the ablution used to be occurred. Around the central hall, several outbuildings for various purposes were located.
A heating of the bathhouse was implemented by a system of flue channels, located under the floor. Water was taken from wells located near the boiler room.

Madrasah of Allakulikhan (1834 – 1835 years)
Madrasah Allakulikhan, one of the largest religious schools in Khiva, is located between tim (shopping mall) and the eastern gate of Ichon-Qala. Its main facade comes out into the courtyard of a partly preserved mosque of Hodzhamberdibiy (1688 year). A portal of a newly built Madrasah divided in half the mosque ruins, for what it was popularly nicknamed as "hurdzhum" - "a changing pouch”.
Experts refer the Madrasah of Allakulikhan to the best examples of architecture of medieval Khorezm. A slender and proportionate monument was created in simple and widescale form. A majolica trimming of the portal and lateral expansion is strict and elegant.
Currently, the exposition of the Museum of Medicine named after Abu Ali Ibn Sina is located in the building of the Madrasah.

Tash-Hauli Palace (1831-1841 years)
Tash-Hauli Palace ("Stone Yard") was built on the order of Allakulikhan and organically blended into the complex of buildings at the eastern gate (Palvan-Darvaza). A compound organism of the palatial and residential buildings is separated from the prying eyes by a high brick wall topped with battlements.
In the beginning, the southern part of the palace was built, which included a yard for receptions - Arz-Hauli (mock trial, support and office space) and the yard for entertainments - Ishrat-Hauli (harem, mihmanhana). After some time a separate family yard called haram, was built.
A family yard is the biggest in size and includes a two-storey residential and business rooms, located on its perimeter.
Popular ornamental traditions found a full expression in the rich decoration of the palace. A colorful majolica tiles on the walls, the magnificent carving of unique columns and marble bases and rich painted wooden ceilings – everything can be seen here. Not without reason, the story still preserves names of the artists, involved in construction of the palace: Usto Tadzhiddin, Kalandar architect, master of facing named Abdullah.
Today, in separate rooms of the palace an exhibition, devoted to the history, culture and decorative arts of Khorezm is exhibited in museum.

Minaret of Islam-Khoja (1908-1910 years)
At the beginning of the XIX-th century, Islam-Khoja, who was the vizier of Khiva Khanate at that time, started a construction on the south-east of Ichon-Qala.
His goal was to build an ensemble consisting of the Madrasah and minaret. The complex was built within 2 years and embodied the best traditions of the ancient architecture.
The tower of the minaret is 9,5 meters in diameter and 57 meters in height. At the same time, following the ancient traditions, the minaret becomes narrowed as far as it is gaining height. And at the very top it is ended with a little ledge and a small domed room covering a crier.
The minaret is built of brick and is lavishly decorated with turquoise, blue and white tiles. By the beauty and elegance it can be compared only with Kalyan minaret in Bukhara.
The minaret of Islam-Hodge is the tallest building in Khiva.
Madrasah of the same name is located next to the minaret, which includes 42 khujdras. A mosque with a low massive dome occupies the south-eastern part of it. In the tone of the minaret, the main facade of the Madrasah is decorated with blue and white majolica, which gives the ensemble a finished look.

Palace of Nurullah-bai
One of the few architectural monuments of Dishan-Kala was built in 1906-1912 years by Muhammad Rahim Khan II for his son, whose name was Asfendiyar.
The architecture of the palace is typical mix of European and National styles, because of modern trends of urban planning of that era.
The construction includes a reception area, premises of inquisition, residential buildings and Madrasah. German specialists fulfilled the trim of ceilings, frames and parquet and decorative ceramic tiles were specially ordered from Petersburg city.
The decoration of the Khan's reception is of particular interest because of the famous Khiva carved Ganj, covered with gilding and color painting.

Minaret of Palvan Cary
The minaret is located in the eastern part of Dishan Qala, near the complex of Seyid-biy, and includes a mosque, a minaret and a two-storey Madrasah. This construction is of a great interest primarily of the fact that is strikingly different from the traditional type of Khiva minarets, which are usually significantly narrowing to the top.
Minaret of Palvan Cary is a rare type of perfectly straight, cylindrical minaret. It is hard to say what was the reason for such architecture. Probably, the reason became new developments, because it was built in the late XIX and early XX centuries. It is noteworthy that the minaret’s decor is also unusual. Such modesty in trimming is not characteristic for Oriental architecture. All of its embellishment is belts of brick figured masonry, ornamented with a green glaze tiles in the form of "bows".

Khiva - Kunya Ark (17th-19th c.)

Kunya Ark (17th-19th c.)

The old fortress is adjoins the western side of Ichan-Kala city walls with hermit Ak-shikh-bobo cell in one of its sections. Ichan-Kala barrow got its name in the 30’s of the 19th century after the construction of the “new palace” Tash Khauli. Construction of Kunya Ark was initiated in 1686-1688 by Anushakhan’s son Aranghkhan. By the end of the 18th century Kunya Ark became …

Khiva - Muhammad Amin Khan Madrasah (1855)

Muhammad Amin Khan Madrasah (1855)

Muhammad Amin Khan Madrasah is located in the western part of Ichan-Kala. Muhammad Amin-Khan Madrasah is the largest two-storey madrasah not only in Khiva but also in comparison to other buildings in the Middle Asia. In addition to being an important spiritual school was possessing substantial vaquf property and income, it also housed the registry office of the Highest Muslim Court. The architecture …

Khiva - Kalta Minaret (1855)

Kalta Minaret (1855)

Minaret Kaltar minar (short) was conceived as the largest in the whole Muslim East (diameter of bottom - 14.2m.). But the building was halted at a height of 29m. The construction was not finished because of the Khan’s death in 1855. The minaret was to become so tall that “one could see Bukhara from it.” The minaret diameter rapidly reduces with height which makes it ever steadier; …

Khiva - Muhammad Rakhimkhan II (1871)

Muhammad Rakhimkhan II (1871)

The Madrasah is located to the east of Kunya Ark Citadel. The madrasah was ordered by Sayyid Muhammad Rahim Bakhadur Khan . Construction of a large madrasah with 76 hujras was a logical continuation of Muhammad Rahimkhan’s educational activities. The Madrasah consists of two yards with one-storey hujra cells in the inner yard. Further in the yard is a two-storey building with a high portal of …

Khiva - Pakhlavan Mahmud Mausoleum (14th-16th c.)

Pakhlavan Mahmud Mausoleum (14th-16th c.)

Built in honor of the famous Khiva poet and undefeated professional wrestler, the city’s pir (patron saint) and healer Pahlavan Makhmud. Originaly the mausoleum was modest, but it rapidly grew into a pilgrim site with a great number of hujras, khanaka and mosques. In 17th century, an entrance portal to the mausoleum was built on the south side. In 1719, Sherghazi Khan, when building a new madrasah …

Sayyid Alovaddin Mausoleum (1303)

The crypt is adjoining the eastern walls of Matniyaz Devan-begi Madrasah, it was built in honor of the great Sufi sheikh died in 1303. A burial vault with a dome and unique majolica headstone was erected in the first half of the 14th century and later in the 17th century a ziarat khana hall with a portal entrance facing the opposite direction was added. The architecture of these rooms has been influenced …

Khiva - The Walls of Ichan- Kala

The Walls of Ichan- Kala

The municipal walls are a rare example of medieval fortifications that lasted till the present; they also give the city the air of majesty. The city of Khiva was bordered by two walls - Ichan-Kala and Dishan-Kala, which makes it different from other places. Ichan-Kala foundation was built between 5th and 4th century BC rising over the level of Dishan-Kala, probably due to the natural relief (according …