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Khiva - The City Museum

Probably, Khiva is the most peculiar Uzbek city. Its history is inextricably connected with the history of Turkmenistan, because the territory was part of the legendary Khorezmshah's State with its capital in Urgench before. Khiva is a very ancient city.

In the 10th century Khive is mentioned as a major trading center on the Silk Road. All the caravans had a stop here on their way to China and back. From dawn to dusk, until the gates were opened, an endless stream of moving string of camels with baggage passed them.

At the beginning of the 16th century Khorezm State became home for Uzbek nomadic tribes, who founded Khive Khanate here. However, Khiva did not become immediately the Khanate's capital. It happened only after Urgench, an existing capital, had been destroyed due to the change of Amudarya's channel. In 1598 Khiva became the main city of the state.

In the 19th century Russia annexed part of Khiva Khanate. One century later, in 1919, the last Khan was liquidated of the ruling dynasty. So Khiva became the capital of the new Khorezm Soviet People's Republic. In 1924 territories of Khorezm oasis became a part of modern Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

There is an interesting legend that tells about the origin of Khiva. Allegedly, the city grew around the well Hewvakh, with tasty and cool water. The well was dug by the order of Shem, the son of Biblical Noah. Today one can see this well in the old part of Khiva, Itchan Kala.

Khiva - a unique city, rightfully claiming the title of "the seventh wonder of the world", thanks to its authentic atmosphere of the 'era of the beginning of time. " Most of the city of Khiva is similar to the open-air museum. And the nucleus of this museum - castle Itchan Kala. It is inside this fortress concentrated all the architectural masterpieces of Khiva. Everyone who enters the fortress, are among the marvelous minarets, stone-paved alleys curves, leading to a madrassa with lacy rough mosaic of the ancient walls. This oriental tale! In 1990 the city was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Kunya-Ark Citadel
According to historical evidence, in 1686, Arang-khan began the construction of the citadel Kunya-ark at the western gates of Ichan-kala. The ark presented a complex multi-yard composition, containing a house for khan, the members of his family, and dignitaries. From the large numbers of constructions of the ark only several buildings of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century were preserved. They were the official reception hall (kurinishkhana), a mosque, the mint, and a harem. Previously, there were an arsenal, a powder-mill, and an official building, warehouses, a kitchen, guardhouses, a stable, and a parade area. Fortified gates led to the citadel. A high-cogged wall separated the ark from the neighborhood dwellings of Ichan-kala.
There was an outer yard, serving as a waiting room for the khan's audiences. There were cannons in a second yard. The officials of khan gathered in the third yard, and only then the main door of the kurinishkhana was visible. A felt yurta (nomad tent) was put up for the khan's use. A narrow corridor led to the harem and a staircase led to the Akshikh-bobo mount from here. The two-layered aivan, which was practically merged into the city wall, opened in the direction of the city. This was a good place for an observation post. From here one could see the panorama of the whole city and the neighborhoods. They say that Khiva's rulers liked to rest here on warm nights.

Djuma Mosque
There is a Djuma (Friday) mosque in the center of Ichan-kala. It was erected at the end of the eighteenth century over the ruins of previous construction. This is an original building without portals and cupolas, without galleries and yards. It is 55x46 m. One can enter the mosque from four sides. From the northern facade, facing the one of the main streets of the city the mosque faces a minaret, 52 m. high.
The building is fenced with brick walls. The interior space is a single hall, the flat ceiling of which is supported by 215 wooden pillars. This type of single-hall mosque is found throughout the world and throughout the ages; witness the magnificent mosque in Afrasiab (tenth century), an Iranian mosque in Plain (tenth century), the Morocco mosque of Khas-an in Rabat (twelfth century) and others. But the constructive plan and decor of the Khiva Djuma mosque express originally. Small openings were made in the ceiling for light and ventilation of the hall.

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