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:

A recent poll finds that 30% of Republicans are in favor of bombing Agrabah, the fictional city in the Disney film, Aladdin. (source)

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).

Russian troops capturing Khiva, 1873. Painted by Vasily Vereshchagin

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.

(Khiva history summarized from here)

Slave Trade in Khiva (Amazing read)

Walking Around Khiva

The taxi pulls up to Khiva, and you quickly realize that the entire city is walled off, like an ancient fortress.

Facing the Mohammed Rakhim Khan Medressa in Khiva, Uzbekistan

A watchtower on the wall in Khiva, Uzbekistan

A street just near my hotel in Khiva, Uzbekistan. I managed to get an entire hotel to myself during this really cold off-season (Early december) for just $20/night

A street in Khiva, Uzbekistan

A street in Khiva, Uzbekistan

Probably a residential house in Khiva, Uzbekistan, or could be a hotel

A restaurant and hotel in Khiva, Uzbekistan

Kalta Minor (short) Minaret in Khiva, Uzbekistan, built 1852-1855. Construction of the minaret was halted, because it would collapse had it been built even higher.

A very small minaret in Khiva, Uzbekistan

The various walls and buildings within Khiva, Uzbekistan

The lookout along the walls in Khiva, Uzbekistan. Accessible through the Khuna Ark.

A door leading somewhere in Khiva, Uzbekistan

Bikajan Bika Madrasah? in Khiva, Uzbekistan

A door leading somewhere else in Khiva, Uzbekistan

The streets in Khiva, Uzbekistan

Locals actually live in Khiva, Uzbekistan. Despite being an ancient city, you can see cables for internet, and satellites for TV on top of buildings.

The Juma minaret in the background. One of 2 minarets in Khiva, Uzbekistan

A man stands on the street, texting on his cellphone, in Khiva, Uzbekistan

Orzu Guest House in Khiva, Uzbekistan

Walking beside the Mohammed Amin Madrassah? in Khiva, Uzbekistan

Entering the local marketplace outside of the main walls of Khiva, Uzbekistan.

Local Uzbek men selling their wares in the market place, outside of Khiva, Uzbekistan

Local men chatting in the marketplace in Khiva, Uzbekistan

Local women talking about something in the marketplace in Khiva, Uzbekistan

A butcher sells his meat in the market place in Khiva, Uzbekistan

A man selling shoes in the outdoor market in Khiva, Uzbekistan

It was cold in Khiva, Uzbekistan. In the day, it was -5*C, but at night, it dropped to -13*C

A woman sells her produce in Khiva, Uzbekistan

Local women selling apples and clothes in Khiva, Uzbekistan

A local man sells seeds of some sort in Khiva, Uzbekistan

2 minarets outside the city walls in Khiva, Uzbekistan

Facing the Islam-Khodja Minaret (left) and the Juma minaret (right) from outside of the city walls

Property in ruins, most likely after the collapse of the USSR.

I man walks down the streets of sub-urban Khiva (outside the city walls).

A red soviet-era car, the ‘Moskvitch 412' (1967-1982) driving outside of Khiva, Uzbekistan

Walking on the outskirts of Khiva, Uzbekistan

A daewoo damas van on the streets of Khiva, Uzbekistan

Local uzbek girls in Khiva, Uzbekistan

An renovated madrassah far outside the walls of Khiva, Uzbekistan

One of the reconstructed walls/fenced areas near the market in Khiva, Uzbekistan

A large market area under construction within Khiva, Uzbekistan

2 men transporting their wares in Khiva, Uzbekistan

There are many taxis that offer to drive customers long distances across Uzbekistan

The east gate, overshadowed by a minaret in Khiva, Uzbekistan

The east gate in Khiva, Uzbekistan

Local women sell their wares in the east gate of Khiva, Uzbekistan

Probably one of my most favorite photos. This is a market place inside Khiva, Uzbekistan, just in front of the Mohammed Rakhim Khan Medressa

Mohammed Rakhim Khan Medressa with a different filter

Looking through the east gate in Khiva, Uzbekistan

The minarets of Mohammed Rakhim Khan Medressa in Khiva, Uzbekistan

You are really transported into another time with these minarets in Khiva, Uzbekistan

An uzbek tourist wearing a wool hat in the cold December weather in Khiva, Uzbekistan

The pillars of the Juma Mosque in Khiva, Uzbekistan. Some dating back from the 10th century CE.

Facing the Juma Mosque (right), and Juma Minaret in Khiva, Uzbekistan.

Local uzbek men selling real fur hats from farm-grown animals like beavers, ferrets, rabbits, squirrels, and other furry creatures in Khiva, Uzbekistan

Another angle of the minor Minaret in Khiva, Uzbekistan

An camel rests, while waiting for a rider to hop on, and take some selfies in Khiva, Uzbekistan

An Uzbek couple celebrating their marriage in Khiva, Uzbekistan

The scale and beauty of the minor minaret in Khiva, Uzbekistan

A closeup of the wall of the minor minaret in Khiva, Uzbekistan reveals arabic text.

A vendor selling his/her wares inside the walls of Khiva, Uzbekistan

Local Uzbek men walking around in the city of Khiva, Uzbekistan

Local uzbek men walking past shops in Khiva, Uzbekistan

Facing the west gate of Khiva, Uzbekistan. Inside the gate is the tourism office, where it seems like a family of individuals deals with payments in cash, and most likely off the books.

Dolls being sold in Khiva, Uzbekistan

A map of Khiva, Uzbekistan, and all major historic landmarks.

Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi, born in Khiva, 780-850 CE, produced works in mathematics, astronomy, and geography, and the founder of ‘Algebra'.

The silk road, extending from the coast of China, all the way into Ukraine, Italy, and France.

A network of cities along the silk road, including 4 major Uzbek cities: Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva (all individual kingdoms at the time).

Outside walls of the Mohammed Rakhim Khan Medressa in Khiva, Uzbekistan

The detailed inscriptions and art of the Mohammed Rakhim Khan Medressa

Inside the Kuhna Ark, is the summer mosque, built in 1838.

A close up of the summer mosque in the Khuna Ark, built in 1838. The Ark is dedicated to Abu Bakr.

Geometric plant-like patters on the summer mosque walls of the Khuna Ark in Khiva, Uzbekistan

Geometric plant-like patters on the summer mosque walls of the Khuna Ark in Khiva, Uzbekistan

 

A place of education in the Kuhna Ark in Khiva, Uzbekistan

A view of Khiva, Uzbekistan from the Watchtower on the west gate, facing the minor minoret

Islam Khoja Minaret in Khiva, Uzbekistan

Djuma Minaret (left) and Islam Khoja Minaret (right)

Mohammed Rakhim Khan Medressa in Khiva Uzbekistan

A view from the watchtower in Khiva, Uzbekistan

A view of the rooftops in Khiva, Uzbekistan

The sub-urbs of Khiva, Uzbekistan, outside the west gates

The sub-urbs of Khiva, Uzbekistan, outside the west gates

The west wall of Khiva, Uzbekistan

A tomb just outside the west gate of Khiva, Uzbekistan

Islam Khoja Minaret in Khiva, Uzbekistan

Leonidas posing on the west wall of Khiva, Uzbekistan

Inside a building in Khiva, Uzbekistan

Walking down some renovated streets in Khiva, Uzbekistan

Uzbek men renovating the city of Khiva, Uzbekistan

Walking towards the Islam Khoja Minaret

Walking down the streets of Khiva towards Islam Khoja Minaret

An administrative office or shop next to Islam Khoja Minaret in Khiva

Looking through the narrow windows of Islam Khoja Minaret as I climn up the stairs

Looking through the narrow windows, going up the Islam Khoja Minaret

The city of Khiva from the Islam Khoja Minaret

Inside the Islam Khoja Minaret

A tomb in Khiva from the top of Islam Khoja Minaret

The city of Khiva from the Islam Khoja Minaret

Islam Khoja Minaret casts a shadow on the city of Khiva

The rooftops within the city of Khiva

Leonidas posing in front of the Islam Khoja Minaret in Khiva, Uzbekistan

 

Conclusion

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).

 

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