Uzbekistan Khiva 2002.09.03 - 09.05

Silent Ancient City

Khiva's old town is the best preserved of Uzbekistan's ancient cities. An 8-meter high perimeter fortress wall contains museums, mosques, and minarets that comprise the old town. Wedding entourages are a common site during the summer months. The wedding party of Uzbek people visits each mosque as the hired cameraman hurries back and forth to capture the most gorgeous background shots of Khiva.

For all its beauty, Khiva's old town occupies as small space. Within the fortress walls, the north-south distance is 650 meters and the east-west distance is 400 meters. Every last building can easily be visited in a day. Admissions are Us 150 per building or Us 2000 for a universal pass. Sometimes an additional camera fee is charged, and other times not. By 17:00, the tourist information office and souvenir shops close. Scarcely anyone is about during the day. By dusk the town is deserted. By 20:00, only one restaurant within the walls is open. All is absolutely silent.

From Tashkent, Khiva is reached by bus (18 hours, Us 3500) via Samarkand and Bukhara. Travel faster by plane to nearby Urgench (1.5 hours, US$75 including airport tax). From the Urgench airport, taxi drivers scramble for passengers. The typical charge is between US$3~10 per car for the 30-minute ride. This is where we found Sasha, a driver we really liked and subsequently hired for our overland ride from Khiva to Bukhara (500 km, US$50 per car). See our Uzbekistan Facts for the Visitor page for Sasha's contact information.

Khiva's most profound landmark is the Kaltaminar near the fortress wall's west gate. Construction of this minaret stopped before it reached its intended height. Based on Kaltaminar's 14.2 meter girth, it probably would have reached 70~80 meters in height had it been completed. Today the minaret stands at 26 meters.
Islam Huja Minaret is old Khiva's tallest. It's clearly visible from anywhere within the fortress walls.
Pahlavon Mahmud Dome is the largest in old Khiva. Juma Minaret sticks up in the background.
Khiva Hotel took over an Islamic Mausoleum and now hosts tour package tourists and other high paying guests in this beautifully tiled building.

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