Khiva Oezbekistan hoogtepunten

Traveling along the Uzbek Silk Road: museum city Khiva

Last month a dream came true for me. For years I have been thinking of visiting this country, and finally the time was near. I am talking about Uzbekistan! Not a country that is on everyone’s list (which is usually the case with the destinations I pick). So I got some mixed reactions when I told about my exciting travel plans. Some people said ‘That is so awesome!’, but others said ‘Uh.. where the hell is that?’ and ‘Is it safe to go there?’. First of all, based on my trip in June 2016 I can say it is safe. I never felt unsafe or threatened and the people were so friendly and helpful. Secondly, Uzbekistan is not really that far. I mean, if you can find Iran and Kazakhstan on the map then you are almost there. And finally, Uzbekistan is such a beautiful country! You can find here a whole series of old Silk Road cities that are in a remarkably good condition. Today I will tell you more about the sand-colored museum city Khiva.

An oasis city with a dark side

Khiva is a city in the western part of Uzbekistan and it used to be an old caravan city on the Silk Road. The traders used Khiva as a last stop before they had to cross the desert to get to Persia (nowadays Iran). The city is sandwiched between the Karakum desert and the Kyzylkum desert. Translated out of the Turkic languages (Uzbek belongs to the Turkic languages) this means the red and black desert. Sounds exciting, but it is not. The sand is just plain yellow.

Khiva is often seen as the open air museum of Uzbekistan, and when I arrived in the city I immediately understood this name. Because of thorough renovations by the Soviets the old walled city is still in really good shape. A curling city wall surrounds dozens of Koran schools (madrasas), mosques and minarets. Most of them are not actively used anymore and are now small museums. When I walked through the city I often gazed up to the sky to look at all the amazing blue domes. There are so many details to see in this city!

Oezbekistan Khiva hoogtepunten

Oezbekistan Khiva Hoogtepunten

But Khiva also has a dark page in history. This city used to be an important slave centre in Central Asia and the Khan (king of Khiva) treated the slaves very poorly. According to the stories the Khan did not chain the slaves, but instead nailed their ears to the walls. This way the Khan made sure the slaves could not escape.

Fifty small highlights

Khiva is not a city with one or two major highlights, it has more than fifty small highlights. The city counts 51 Unesco monuments and 250 old houses that are all found in the walled inner city called Itchan Kala. This is the jackpot you need to visit in Khiva. It goes too far to tell about all of the monuments, but I am going to highlight a couple of my favorites.

  • Kalta Minor, the building that immediately caught my eye when I entered through the west gate (Oto Darvaza). The outsight of this minarets is tiled with beautiful blue ceramic. You might notice that something is off with this building. The minaret is rather small and a bit thick. This was not the plan of the Khan when he built this minaret. According to legend this should have been the highest minaret in the city so that the king could watch over Khiva and neighboring Bukhara. An ambitious plan, because Bukhara is 387 kilometer away(!). The construction was never finished. The Khan died abruptly and the plans faded away, which was actually a good thing, because the building would have been too heavy for the ground.
  • Islam Khoja Minor, the highest minaret of all Uzbekistan. A small winding staircase takes you to the top of the building from where you have a great view over the city. I would know, because I climbed those stairs!

Khiva Uzbekistan hoogtepunten

Khiva oezbekistan hoogtepunten

  • Kuhna Ark, the former palace of the mighty Khan, his family and servants. Impressive are the kurinishkhana which are the reception rooms where the Khan met his guests. The most beautiful parts of these rooms are the aivans, a veranda that gave shade for the sun. Inside the aivan it is nice and cool and you feel a cool breeze (which is a great considering summer in Uzbekistan is hot!). The turquoise tiles on the wall of the aivan and the wooden pillars are so beautiful and full of details. I could not stop looking at it!
  • Djuma Mosque, an unusual mosque within the turquoise and sand colors of Khiva. Inside the mosques there are 212 wooden columns, decorated with floral and leave patrons. Some of these columns are more than 800 years old and are the oldest wooden columns in all of Central Asia. The Djuma Mosque is also a nice place to get out of the sun and cool off.

Khiva Oezbekistan hoogtepunten

Khiva Oezbekistan hoogtepunten

Practical tips for Khiva

The entrance to the Itchan Kala is free, as long as you do not enter through the west gate. Use the other entrances and you can wander in for free. To visit the sights you have to buy a ticket at the west gate for 30.000 som (a little more than 9 euros). If you want to take pictures or film, you have to buy an extra ticket for 7.000 som (little more than 2 euros). Next time I would not buy this ticket, because everyone was taking picture and nobody was checking the tickets. For visiting the Islam Khodja minor and the Djuma Mosque you have to pay extra. You can get to Khiva from Urgench (45 minutes by car). You can fly to Urgench from Tashkent in one and a half hour.

Would you consider visiting Khiva or Uzbekistan in general?



About

"Don't let your dreams be dreams. Go live your dreams. Go travel", is het motto van Esther. Ze is hopeloos verliefd op al het moois wat deze wereld te bieden heeft. Op Go Live Go Travel combineert ze de liefde voor reizen met haar passie voor schrijven.


'Traveling along the Uzbek Silk Road: museum city Khiva' have 10 comments

  1. 4 July 2016 @ 7:57 pm Yvonne

    Fantastisch! Het ziet eruit als een mengsel van Oeigoeristan, Oost-Turkije en Jaisalmer in Rajasthan… maar dan de meest gave combi van die plekken die je kan bedenken. Kiva ligt wel echt in een uithoek van het land volgens mij. Ben je heen en terug gevlogen?

    Reply

    • 4 July 2016 @ 8:46 pm Esther

      Dat klinkt als een hele mooie combinatie! West-China en India staan ook nog op mijn lijstje 🙂 Khiva ligt inderdaad in het westen van Oezbekistan. Je vliegt vanaf Tasjkent naar Urgench en dan nog 45 minuten met de auto/taxi. Ik ben er naar toe gevlogen en vanaf Khiva verder de woestijn ingetrokken naar Buchara en Samarkand. Een aanrader!

      Reply

  2. 5 July 2016 @ 10:31 am Marcella

    Wauw, mooie foto’s! Wat een kleuren! Dit land staat niet op mijn wishlist, maar ik weet er eigenlijk ook gewoon veels te weinig over. Dan geef ik al snel de landen voorrang waar ik meer van weet 😉 Maar je maakt me wél nieuwsgierig!

    Reply

    • 5 July 2016 @ 9:45 pm Esther

      Oezbekistan is meer dan de moeite waard en de onbekendheid van dit land maakt het nog mooier! Wellicht ooit als je denkt ik wil wat anders 😉

      Reply

  3. 5 July 2016 @ 10:32 pm Daphne

    Wow wat mooi! Ja daar wil ik absoluut naartoe de prachtige kleuren blauw, de minaretten echt uniek. Niet alles kan in één keer en met een kindje is Oezbekistan echt wel moeilijk te reizen, al wil ik veel proberen, maar het staat zeker heel hoog op mijn wensenlijst. Ja wel een beetje jaloers.

    Reply

    • 6 July 2016 @ 7:20 am Esther

      Hoi Daphne! Ik kon ook echt niet genoeg krijgen van die blauwe kleuren, zo mooi! Met een kindje door Oezbekistan reizen lijkt me pittig (hitte en taal), maar wel te doen. Het land is redelijk plat (muv Samarkand) en de locals zijn erg behulpzaam!

      Reply

  4. 7 July 2016 @ 2:06 pm Lotte - scratchingmymap

    Echt prachtige foto’s seg! Het is inderdaad geen alledaagse bestemming, volgen er nog blogs over budget en hoe je er zelfstandig kan reizen? Die zou ik namelijk heel graag lezen. 🙂

    Reply

    • 7 July 2016 @ 8:27 pm Esther

      Hoi Lotte! Ik ben zeker van plan een post te schrijven met praktische tips, houd mijn blog dus in de gaten 🙂

      Reply

  5. 12 October 2016 @ 3:49 pm Shamira | Kompas24

    Inderdaad geen alledaagse bestemming, maar dat maakt het juist zo bijzonder. Echt prachtige foto’s waardoor je me erg nieuwsgierig maakt 🙂 En rustig ook! Misschien heb je op het juiste moment de foto’s geschoten haha =p, maar het lijkt er super rustig te zijn.

    Reply

    • 16 October 2016 @ 1:56 pm Esther

      Oezbekistan is ook erg rustig! Wij bezochten het land in juni, net voordat het te heet wordt (nog steeds was het 35+ graden). Hoogseizoen voor toeristen is meestal april & mei en september & oktober. Dan komen de grote groepen, daarbuiten zijn het af en toe backpackers.

      Reply


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