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Khiva (Chiwa) – “A museum under the open sky”

As the ancient territory of Khiva (or Chiwa) was an oasis near Amudarya River, numerous ethnic groups settled there in V-IV centuries BC. Soon the settlement turned into Khiva town, bloomed and became known as one of the significant towns of the Great Silk Road.

There is a legend about Khiva, saying that Noah’s son – Shem founded the city. When his team was passing Kyzylkum desert, they all got thirsty-almost dying. Shem dug a well & his people started to drink exclaiming – “Khei-vakh” which meant “so pleasant!”

The earliest written sources about the history of Khiva go back to the X century A.D. A well-known Arabian explorer Al-Istarkhiy described Khiva one of 30 main cities of Khorezm. Another well-known Arabian traveler-Ibn Batuta described Khiva as it had a law obedient king and an abundance of the inhabitants during his trip in the XIV century.

Gengizkhan’s troops demolished the city totally in the XIV century. Soon it obtained its freedom and bloomed for a couple of centuries. Khiva remained as one of the significant towns of the Silk Road.

By becoming the capital of Khiva Khanate during the XVI century, a lot of constructions were started. But in XVII century Iranian King-Nadirshakh demolished the town. Later it was invaded by Turkmen leaders. Finally, after long-lasting and numerous battles, the Kungrad dynasty took it over and ruled till 1920.

From XIX century Khiva had 2 parts: Ichan Kala (the inside town) and Dishan Kala (the outside town) with a 10-meter-high wall dividing them.

Ichan Kala has 6-8 meters high, 6-7 meters wide, and 2.2 kilometers long protective wall from mud bricks. The town’s size was 650 m × 400 m with a 26-hectare territory. It used to have 4 gates.

Ichan Kala, the inside town of Khiva was a zone where the royal family and khan’s nearest people used to live with their families. Poor people used to reside in Dishan Kala. Currently, in Ichan Kala there are 360 houses with 2 600 inhabitants living in them.

In the middle of the XIX century, 200 000 folks built Dishan Kala (the outside) by the wish of ruler-Allakulikhan. The wall of Dishan Kala was more than 6 km in length and there were 10 gates.

Besides, local rulers used to have summer palaces with gardens. Here are some summer palaces: Tozabog, Nurullaboy. Rafanik, and Nurullabek

In 1990 Ichan Kala got into the list of UNESCO. Today the town has more than 50 historical monuments. Khiva can boast of having more than 40,000 valuable historical findings aging more than 3 000 years in its fund.

Nowadays Khiva is considered to be one of the business cards of Uzbekistan like Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara, and Shakhrisabz. Thus, it is one of the favorite cities of tourists to visit!


List of main historical monuments of Khiva excursions:

  • Allakulikhan Medresah (XIX century);
  • Amir Tura Medresah (beginning of XX century);
  • Arab Mukhammad-Khan Medresah (XVII-XIX centuries);
  • Ata Darvoza Gate (XIX century);
  • Bogcha Darvoza Gate (XIX century);
  • Friday (Juma) Mosque with wooden pillars (XVIII century);
  • Islamkhodja complex (beginning of XX century);
  • Kalta Minor (XIX century);
  • Kibla Tozabog Palace (XIX century);
  • Kunya Ark citadel (XVII-XIX centuries);
  • Matniyoz Devonbegi Medresah (XIX century)
  • Mukhammad Aminkhan Medresah (XIX century);
  • Mukhammad Rakhimkhan Medresah (XIX century);
  • Nurillaboy Palace (XIX-XX centuries);
  • Pakhlavan Makhmud Mausoluem (XIX century);
  • Palvan Darvoza Gate (XIX century);
  • Said Alovuddin Mausoleum (XIV century);
  • Shergazikhan Medresah (XVIII century);
  • Tash Darvoza Gate (XIX century);
  • Tash Khovli Palace (XVIII-XIX centuries).


Some sample tour programs for a day trip from Khiva:

First option:           A day trip to Citadels from Khiva

Route: Khiva – Citadels – Khiva (300 km)

Breakfast in the hotel. Excursion to ruins of Kala citadels: Kyzyl Kala (AD I-XIII c), Toprak Kala (I century BC-AD IV c), Ayazkala (IV c BC-AD XIII c), Kyrkyz Kala (AD I-VI c). PM. Return Khiva.


Second option:            A day trip to Turkmenistan


Breakfast in the hotel. Drive to the Uzbek-Turkmen border “Shavat-Dashoguz”. Change transport, and pass neutral zone (1,5 km walking), get a Turkmen visa at the border with our visa support. Drive to Kunya Urgench. Visit Turabek Khanum Mausoleum, Sultan Tekesh Mausoleum, Sultan II Arslan Mausoleum, Najmiddin Kubra Mausoleum, Sultan Ali Mausoleum. Also, explore Minaret of Kutlug Timur and hill of Kirk Mulla.PM. Return to Khiva.