Nowadays, the 2,500-year-old settlement is a sleepy little tourist town, yet it does boast its fair share of interesting attractions and sites - all providing reference to its long and fascinating history. Like many other ancient settlements in Central Asia, the 1.8-mile area of Khiva is split into two different parts; an old town, which features a host of original Islamic buildings, mosques, and narrows streets; and a new town, where the majority of the town's 40,000 people live.
The travel routes in and out of Khiva are good, catering for the recent influx of tourists. Many get in on private buses, with the more adventurous rolling in by train. The town is located on a central eastern border, just a short drive from Turkmenistan and 22 miles to Urgench, the regional capital.
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This architectural masterpiece is centrally located and one of the must-see attractions for those visiting Khiva. The design incorporates hundreds of different columns around the perimeter of a main central building, with the oldest of these columns dating back as far as the 11th century. Inside you’ll find a tranquil, spiritual space designated for those who come to worship, rest or just admire the surroundings.
This stunning monument, probably the first thing you’ll see when approaching Khiva, is instantly recognizable by is jade green color and modest height of 85 feet. When it was first commissioned for construction in 1852, it was decided the structure would reach a height of 230 feet, although this plan was soon abandoned. It’s still an impressive site that draws thousands of visitors every year.
Whilst browsing through one of Uzbekistan’s many bazaars, you’ll probably spot one of the many silk carpets for sale. For those who wonder exactly how they’re made, this silk carpet workshop is the perfect place to visit. From 9am to 6pm, you’ll be able to catch the ancient production processes in action, and have the chance to grab yourself a sample of their handiwork for a reasonable price.
This 300-year-old old medressa (Islamic school) was once one of the wealthiest schools in the region, and its incredible tiled design and intricately-decorated appearance is an obvious testimony to that fact. Located in the old town of Khiva, this is definitely worth seeing, both inside and out.
Although not as old as other historic sites in Khiva, the 19th century Stone Palace, or Tash Khauli, is one of the area’s most widely adored attractions. Once home to the former leader of Khiva, Allah Kuli Khan, the winding mazes, tranquil open courtyards and pretty jade tiles make this well worth a few hours of your time.
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