As the most peculiar city in Uzbekistan, Khiva is located in Xorazm Region, Uzbekistan. According to archaeological data, the city was established around 1500 years ago. It is the former capital of Khwarezmia and the Khanate of Khiva. Itchan Kala in Khiva was the first site in Uzbekistan to be inscribed in the World Heritage List (1991). The astronomer, historian and polymath, Al-Birun (973-1048 CE) was born in either Khiva or the nearby city of Kath.
In the first century, A. D. the Afrigid dynasty came to power in Khorezm, who ruled up to the end of the 10century. In this time of period these lands were annexed by the Arabs and became part of the Islamic world. In the 9m-13t centuries, the state of Khorezm-shahs arose in Khorezm and was crushed by the Mongols in the13 century. In the14m-15 centuries Khorezm was a part of the Timurid state, and in the 16 century, it was separated by the Chingizid khans. By the 17th century, Amu-Darya changed its crease and Khiva became the centre of the oasis and the capital of the khanate. In 1873 Russia established a protectorate over the Khanate of Khiva. The Khiva khan was dethroned in 1920 and the Khiva Republic was formed. It was annexed to the USSR and Khiva became an administrative part of Uzbekistan in 1924.
The Etymology of Khiva:
The origin of the name Khiva is unknown, but many contradictory stories have been written to explain it.
The traditional story attributed the name to a son of the prophet Noah: "It is said that Shem from whence the word Semitic is derived, after the flood, he found himself wandering in the desert alone. Having fallen asleep, he dreamt of 300 burning torches. On waking up, he was pleased with this omen, he founded the city with outlines in the form of a ship mapped out according to the placement of the torches, about which he had dreamt. Then Sim dug the 'Kheyvak' well, the water from which had a surprising taste. It is possible to see this well in Ichan-Kala (an internal town of Khiva City) even today."
Khiva is split into two parts. The outer town, called Dichan Kala, was formerly protected by a wall with 11 gates. The inner town, or Itchan Kala, is encircled by brick walls, whose foundations are believed to have been laid in the 10th century. Present-day crenellated walls date back to the late 17th century and attain a height of 10 meters.
Kalta Minor is the large blue tower in the central city square, it was supposed to be a minaret, but the Khan died and the succeeding Khan did not complete it.
The old town retains more than 50 historic monuments and 250 old houses, mostly dating from the 18th or the 19th centuries. Djuma Mosque, for instance, was established in the 10th century and rebuilt in 1788-89, although its celebrated hypostyle hall still retains 112 columns taken from ancient structures.
Djuma-Mosque of Khiva is situated in the centre of Ichan-Qala. In its present form, it was built in the late 18th century but it is a very ancient type of great mosque the entire area of which is covered with a flat roof, sported by wooden columns. Such construction is peculiar for ancient Arabian mosques when a place for mass prayers were usually courtyards, partially covered with wooden roofs. The open yard mosque principle allowed it to be not only a house of prayer but also a place for public meetings and believers' training sessions. This tradition was inherited by Khorezm architecture and Djuma-Mosque was built as a prototype of an older unpreserved mosque of that type in Khiva of which there are now no other examples in Central Asia. Djuma-Mosque may be just the 18th-century reconstruction of that ancient cathedral mosque of Khiva, mentioned by poet Al-Makdisi in the 10th century.
Two hundred carved wooden columns create an exclusive atmosphere for praying. Their number is212. They are arranged in a square grid of 3.15x3.15 m. Most of the columns were made of from tree trunks in the 18-19th centuries. Others were gathered from ruined medieval buildings. The oldest of these columns could be taken from the medieval capital of Khorezm-Kyat died in the Amu-Darya waters. 21 columns date back to the 10th-11th centuries and are ornamented with Arabian inscriptions in Kufi. Four columns have inscriptions in Nash. The columns of the 18th-19tn centuries are well recognized due to the typical floral vegetative pattern. The columns are levelled by different stone "pillows" and bases. Low light coming through the holes in the ceiling creates a gloom, which helps concentration on prayer even on a bright sunny day. Under the southern hatch, there is a small Hauz.
The forest of pillars standing in the semi-darkness of the hall, adorned with the best patterns of Khorezm carving is expressive of the inimitable art of the local masters.
Minaret of Djuma-Mosque:
An austere brick minaret with simple belts of decor stands at the north wall of Djuma-Mosque. It occupies central position inside Ichan-Qala. The diameter of the minaret of Djuma-Mosque is 6.2 m at the base and it is 32.5 m high. The top is crowned with an 8-arch lantern decorated with a stalactite cornice and dome. The minaret was built on the site of an older minaret that collapsed in the 17th century. The construction of the minaret, as well as the construction (or reconstruction) of Djuma-Mosque, was carried out by the major dignitary Abdurrahman Mihtari at the end of the 1gt century with the blessing of the ruler of Khiva Evez Muhammad-inak(1790-1804). A curious fact draws people's attention-the Khiva's minarets are erected on the same line of "East-West"(the line motion of the Sun), about 200 metres in distance from each other. The minaret of Djuma-Mosque is in the middle. To the west of it Kalta-Minor Minaret and one of the complexes of ShaKalandar Bobo. To the east the minaret of Seyid-biy mosque and the minaret of Palvan-Kari are located.
Itchan Kala is the walled inner town of the city of Khiva, Uzbekistan. It has been protected as a world heritage site since 1990.
The old town retains more than 50 historic monuments and 250 old houses, dating primarily from the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries. Djuma Mosque, for instance, was established in the tenth century and rebuilt from 1788 to 1789, although its celebrated hypostyle hall still retains 112 columns taken from ancient structures.
The most spectacular features of Ichan Kala are its crenellated brick walls and four gates, one at each side of the rectangular fortress. Although the foundations are believed to have been laid in the tenth century, however, the present-day 10-metres-high walls were erected mostly in the late seventeenth century and later repaired.
Best Time to Visit Khiva
Spring is the best time to visit Khiva. Generally, the autumn is harvest time, and the markets are full of fresh fruit. If you haven’t decided when to travel, we recommend visiting Uzbekistan during Navruz, a bright and vibrant holiday in March, or the Silk and Spices Festival, a colourful festival of Uzbek traditions held annually at the end of May in Bukhara.