Adventures in Khiva, Uzbekistan
When I tried to google the name of the city in Aladdin, a series of articles came up that looked like this:
Regardless, let's not bomb Agrabah, and instead venture into at a city that feels VERY much like Agrabah…
The travel story here is simple, after exploring Tashkent, Uzbekistan (100+ Photos), it was time to venture further into an ancient artery of the Silkroad, and see something more historic;
That historic artery of the silkroad is Khiva, Uzbekistan
I landed in the airport at Urgench, Uzbekistan and upon exiting the airport, was greeted with a flock of hungry taxi drivers trying to rip me off with tourist prices to the city of Khiva.
I negotiated my way to a relatively modest price for a 40 minute taxi… about $10 USD (I don't quite remember).
The negotiation simply consisted of me walking away, and asking other taxis their price, while one dude kept following me, until he gave me a lower rate, and I settled on it.
Where is Khiva, Uzbekistan?
Some Quick Khiva History
Khiva originated as a small trading outpost more than a millennium ago, due to its proximity to the ancient silk road.
Eventually, the outpost would grow into a town that was constantly raided and destroyed by conquerors such as Alexander the Great (Greeks), Qutayba Ibn Muslim (Arabs), Genghis Khan (Mongols), Amir Timur (Timurid Empire), and many others.
By 1598, Khiva became the capital of the Khanate (kingdom) of Khiva, and developed into a small well-fortified town.
Khiva's true rise to fame was through its intensive slave trade, at peak having over 30,000 Persian and Kurdish slaves, and 3000 Russian slaves kidnapped from the southern areas of Russia.
By the 1850's the Russian government was well aware of its people being kidnapped in cities such as Orenburg. But at the time, Tsar Alexander (Russian Emperor) was busy consolidating his power in St. Petersburg and the rest of Russia.
By the early 1870's, Russia used the pretext of ‘Russian slaves in Khiva' to stage a strategic military advance and invasion (Although the real goal was to capture British controlled Afghanistan, and ultimately, India).
Although the Russian empire was able to annex Khiva in 1873 from the slave-trading Khanate (emperor), it wasn't until the soviet union completely killed off the entire slave trade in the 1920's.
By 1924, Khiva became the administrative center for the Korezm region in the newly formed Uzbekistan.
By 1991 Uzbekistan became an independent nation, and Khiva is now a major tourist destination.
Walking Around Khiva
The taxi pulls up to Khiva, and you quickly realize that the entire city is walled off, like an ancient fortress.
I feel like having a tour guide in Khiva is essential.
Unfortunately, I didn't bother getting one, because I like to read about the cities and history mostly on my own.
Nonetheless, Khiva is as close as you can get to an ancient city in Uzbekistan, and was my most favourite city to walk around in central Asia.
After my 2 day adventure here, I asked the hotel to order a taxi in the morning, which only cost about $50 USD.
The following day, the taxi driver drove me for 6 hours, all the way to the city of Bukhara, Uzbekistan (450+ km).