Khiva – an open-air museum

Legend has it that the first well in Khiva was dug on the orders of Sem, the son of Noah. However, more credible seems the following story: in the 5th century B.C., a big caravan was on its way east. It lost its leader in a sandstorm and from then on wandered aimlessly through the desert. When the travellers had already lost all hope of salvation, one of the caravan drivers accidentally found a source. After the first sip, he shouted “Chey vak”, which in Aramaic meant “what delicious water” and coined the name of the place. The first village was built around the well. In the 5th century, the first city wall was erected, which was not even five meters high. In the course of time, Khiva became an important place on the Silk Road.

Khiva panorama
Khiva. Panoramic view

Like an oasis, Khiva is surrounded by desert: in the north lies the Kizilkum and in the south the Karakum. There are therefore no forests and little water, but thanks to the hard work during the Khorezm Empire, Khiva became the cultural, administrative and economic centre of the region.

In the 16th century, Khiva became the capital of the newly founded Khiva Khanate, a principality that stretched over parts of the present-day states of Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. At this time, the construction of cultural buildings such as madrasahs, mosques and palaces began.



2500 years

Age of Khiva

100 meters

above sea level

In the past, Khiva was divided into two parts: inner city and outer city. In the local language, the inner city is called “Ichan Kala”, the outer – “Dishan Kala”. The inner city “Ichan Kala” has been well-preserved together with its city wall, within which kings, officials and nobles had been living in old times.

Most of the architectural monuments, restaurants, workshops and some hotels are located in Ichan Kala, which is designed as a pedestrian zone. This is most likely the town where you will feel like you happen to be in a fairy tale of 1001 nights. Today about 4,000 out of 90,000 Khiva inhabitants live in Ichan Kala.

Air connections: the closest airport is located in Urgench city. Urgench international airport has flight connections mainly to Russia. During the high tourist season, there are also direct flights from Italy and France. The distance between Khiva and Urgench is 35km.

Railway connections: In 2018 a Khiva railway station was built, which now provides direct rail connections to Bukhara.

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