Lo! some we loved, the loveliest and best
That Time and Fate of all their Vintage prest,
Have drunk their Cup a Round or two before,
And one by one crept silently to Rest.

Khiva

URGENCH - KHIVA: THE KHOREZM REGION

Khoresm region is situated in the lower reaches of the Amu-Dar­ya River among the boundless Kizil-Kum and Karakum deserts. Khoresm is the native land of ancient civilizations. Archaeological excavations show, that even by X-th century B.C. there was a system of irrigation canals not less than 300km long. According to ancient era, the found­er of a dynasty of the Khoresm Kings was Siavush. There is a basis on which to consider Khoresm as the native land of Zoroastrizm. From the X-th century Khoresm became a large economic, cultural and sci­entific centre. Here great scientists such as Al-Khorezmi and Beruni lived and worked. Here the first Academy of Sciences in the East was founded (Mamun Academy).

Khiva - one of the most an­cient cities in the world was evi­dence of the rise and fall of Kho­rezm. The final appearance of old Khiva was formed at the end of XVII-th and the beginning of the XIX-th centuries. Today the old part of Ichan-Kala is called an open - air museum and guarded by UNESCO.

The rather small territory of Ichan-Kala holds - 2 palaces, more than 60 madrassah and small-sized mosques, mausoleums, a cathedral mosque, a covered market, cara­vans-sheds and bath-houses, and apartment houses.

Ichan-Kala is surrounded by a strong fortress like brick wall. Walking around the maze of narrow alleyways protect­ed at both sides by facades of high houses with thick brick walls, crowned by merlons, and domes on corners, one is amazed by the architecture and skill of the lo­cal craftsmen. Not only the admi­nistrative and cult buildings, but also the apartment houses are decorated with dazzling bright tiles with incredible designs. Spe­cial to Khiva is the art of wood-carving. In the city all the co­lumns, doors, gin and shutters are decorated with unique ornament. Khiva is famous for its carpets and jewels, too.

ATTRACTIONS:

Kunya-Ark (oldfortress) XVII-XIX - a former official res­idence of Khivan khans. It con­tained office, arsenal, mint and a reception hall.

Djuma-mosque (1788-1789) - The building itself is not remarkable from the outside, ex­cept for its 50m length and deli­cate entrance door design. Two hundred and twelve carved wood­en columns support the ceiling. Many of them have even been brought from other cities and dat­ed back to the X-th century. Light filters inside only through two small openings in the roof. Inside the mosque there are excellent acoustics.

Tash-Khauli Palace (1830-1838) - The Khivan khans lived here. There was a harem and a ceremonial court yard for offi­cial receptions. The facades of co­urt yard and internal walls are co­ated by a blue majolica.

Pahlavan-Mahmud Mau­soleum (1810-1825). The sing­le turquoise dome in Ichan-Kala crowns a mausoleum above a tomb Pahlavan-Mahmud - a poet and professional fighter and nati­onal hero. The entire mausoleum's in­ternal walls and ceilings and also the grave-stone are covered with magnificent tiles.

Minaret Kalta-Minor (short) - in 1851 was conceived as the largest in Central Asia (diam­eter of bottom - 14m). But for reasons unknown, the building was halted at a height of 26m. It is the only minaret entirely covered by a set of glazed bricks and ma­jolica.

Islam-Khoja Minaret (1908) - Minaret is a symbol of Khiva; the shape of it ascends to early places-prototypes (Kunya-Urgench XIV) and very narrowed at its top. On the minaret, bands of brick masonry are alternated by a band of a glazed pattern. Stan­ding 44,6m high, the minaret has a base diameter of 9,5m.

30-40 kilometers from Khiva are the ruins of the ancient cities Ayaz-Kala, Guldurechi-Kala, Kizil-Kala and Ellik-Kala dat­ing to IV-I-th centuries B.C. The most ancient is Toprak-Kala - cap­ital of Khorezmshakhs. A day trip with a picnic in a yurt of Karakalpak people will bring you closer to the daily life of local people.