Itchan Kala is the name of Khiva’s old town. Located at the southern end of the Soviet town, it is surrounded by a centuries-old wall and contains most of the places of interest to visitors. The 2. 5-kilometer-long mud wall dates to the 18th century when it was rebuilt after a Persian raid. Many of the most lovely building have stubby, turret-like towers topped by turquoise or brown domes.

Itchan Kala (also spelled Ichon-Qala and Itchan Kala) has a rectangular layout with gates on the north, east, south and west sides. Most visitors arrive through the West Gate, a twin-turreted, mud-brick reconstruction of the original, which was destroyed in 1920. The area around the West Gate contains the best restored buildings. The slave market was held around the East Gate. The niches here were used to display slaves that were on sale. Today there is small working mosque and food bazaar here with melons, grapes, red peppers, embroidery, hand-forged sickles, local glazed pottery. Before restoring the houses in the old town, the Soviets kicked the residents out and moved them to concrete apartment complexes outside the walls.

Itchan Kala was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990. According to UNESCO: “”Itchan Kala is the inner town (protected by brick walls some 10 meters high) of the old Khiva oasis, which was the last resting-place of caravans before crossing the desert to Iran. Although few very old monuments still remain, it is a coherent and well-preserved example of the Muslim architecture of Central Asia. There are several outstanding structures such as the Djuma Mosque, the mausoleums and the Madrasahs and the two magnificent palaces built at the beginning of the 19th century by Alla-Kulli-Khan. [Source: UNESCO \=/]

“Itchan Kala, the inner fortress of Khiva, is located to the South of the Amu Darya River (known as the Oxus in ancient times) in the Khorezm region of Uzbekistan and it was the last resting-place of caravans before crossing the desert to Persia. Itchan Kala has a history that spans over two millennia. The inner town has 26 hectares and was built according to the ancient traditions of Central Asian town building, as a regular rectangle (650 by 400 meters) elongated from south to north and closed by brick fortification walls that are up to ten meters high. \=/

“The property is the site of 51 ancient monumental structures and 250 dwellings and displays remarkable types of architectural ensembles such as Djuma Mosque, Oq Mosque, Madrasahs of Alla-Kulli-Khan, Muhammad Aminkhon, Muhammad Rakhimkhon, Mausoleums of Pahlavon Mahmoud, Sayid Allavuddin, Shergozikhon as well as caravanserais and markets. The attributes are outstanding examples of Islamic architecture of Central Asia. Djuma Mosque, a mosque with a covered courtyard designed for the rugged climate of Central Asia, is unique in its proportions and the structure of its inner dimensions (55 metersx46 meters), faintly lit by two octagonal lanterns and adorned with 212 columns. The Madrasahs, which make up the social areas, have majestic proportions with a simple decoration, and they form another type of Islamic architecture specific to Central Asia. \=/

“The place of the architectural heritage of Itchan Kala in the history of Central Asian architecture is determined not only by the abundance of surviving architectural monuments, but also by the unique contribution of Khorezmian master builders to Central Asian architecture and preservation of its classical traditions. The domestic architecture of Khiva, with its enclosed houses with their courtyard, reception room with portico or avian supported by delicately sculptured wooden posts, and private apartments, is also an important attribute of the property that can be studied in its 18th- and 20th-century morphological variants. \=/

“However, the outstanding qualities of Itchan Kala derive not so much from the individual monuments but also from the incomparable urban composition of the city, and from the harmony with which the major constructions of the 19thand 20th centuries were integrated into a traditional structure. ” \=/

Itchan Kala Walls

The city walls are a rare example of a medieval fortification, preserved to our time. The city of Khiva was surrounded by two rows of walls — one around Itchan Kala (inner city) and another around Dishan-Kala (outer city). The first walls of Itchan Kala were built between the 5th and 4th centuries B.C. Today, they are higher than the walls of the Dishan-Kala, possibly due to the natural relief (according to legend, the city was built on a sandy hill).

The city walls of Khiva were built of cob brick (clay with straw bricks), measuring 40x40x10 centimeters, and rebuilt several times over the centuries. The walls of Itchan Kala are 8-10 meters high, 6-8 meters wide and 2250 meters long. Every 30 meters there are round defensive towers protruding beyond the walls, On the top of the walls and towers are jagged rails with narrow embrasures, to repel the attacks of enemies during a siege. Moats filled with water were employed in the the system of fortifications. Today moats it can be outside the the southern part of the wall. The ones in the north and west have been paved over.

The walls of Dishan-Kala were built by Allakuli Khan in 1842. An incredible amount of clay was needed to make the walls. Studies have shown that the clay was mined two kilometers north of the city, in an area called Govuk-Kul, where there is now a big lake. And today, as before, the excellent quality local clay is used by modern potters. Legend has it that when the Prophet Muhammad built Medina, clay was used from these places, and the lake that appeared later is considered to be holy.

Itchan Kala Gates

Itchan Kala (also spelled Ichon-Qala and Itchan Kala) has a rectangular layout with gates on the north, east, south and west sides. The city gates were also part of the defense system. They have special devices used by the guards guarding the city on both sides of the arched passage, there are “shock” towers, and there is a viewing gallery above the gate. The passage is covered with an arched roof (Koy-Darvaza) or, if the corridor is very long, with several domes.

Most visitors arrive through the West Gate, a twin-turreted, mud-brick reconstruction of the original, which was destroyed in 1920. The area around the West Gate contains the best restored buildings. The slave market was held around the East Gate. The niches here were used to display slaves that were on sale. Today there is small working mosque and food bazaar here with melons, grapes, red peppers, embroidery, hand-forged sickles, local glazed pottery. Before restoring the houses in the old town, the Soviets kicked the residents out and moved them to concrete apartment complexes outside the walls.

Tash Darvaza Gate (the southern gate of Itchan Kala) was built in the mid 19th century during the reign of Allah Quli Khan. This is a six-chamber structure with a two-dome passage along the central axis. On the sides of the passage are four dome rooms for customs and guards. The gates were used by caravans coming from the Caspian Sea. The southern main facade has two massive towers. The gate is 9. 7 x 17 meters Size according to plan and 9. 3 meters high.

Bagcha Darvaza Gate (The northern gate of Itchan Kala) is a symmetrical structure in the fortress wall, divided into rooms. The south side facing Itchan Kala is less impressive. Unlike Tash-Darvaz, the stairs leading upwards protrude from the southern corners of the towers and are located on their sides, deep inside the wall of Itchan Kala. The size of the gate according to the plan is 18 x 16 meters, It is 8. 5 meters high.

Ata Darvaza (Western) Gate of Itchan Kala

Ata Darvaza Gate (Western Gate) provides access to the western part of Itchan Kala and is considered the main gate to enter the city. In the inner part of the gate there were 13 shopping arcades, covered bazaar-chorsu. And on the right side of the gate was the Muhammad Aminkhan Madrasah (1855), on the left side was the Khan Palace Ark (Kunya-ark).

Inside the gate housed the customs and the sarrafhan (money exchange facilities). The size of the structure and its dimensions, structures in accordance with the architectural possibilities were designated in very acceptable standards. In order for the structure to be very stable, the forms of the gate arches were arranged on the basis of the gravity of the load falling on them. Wooden beams were introduced into a row of bricks, the load falling on the domes was distributed over several arches. In this method, for the construction of small domes, brick is laid in the form of “davr” and “balkhi”. At the same time, the interior of the building is plastered. Gate length 10 meters, width 4 meters.

Four main premises were arranged at the gates, which were destroyed in the 1920s and in 1975 were restored by Khiva master restorers in their original form. The gate leaves are decorated with very elegant carved plant patterns “isly” and geometric patterns. The leaves of both gates in the central part are decorated with equilateral quadrilaterals (85x85 centimeters) of the same proportions and sizes, in which circles with the image of octahedral stars are inscribed. Inside the circle in the right casement is written in Arabic a Surah “Ikhlas” from the Koran, in the left casement is “Kalimai Shahadat” with the words “La ilaha ollallohu Muhammadur Rasululloh” — that is, “There is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet”.

The doors of this gate were actually installed in the entrance of the country palace, Hawley Mohammed Aminkhan, built in 1850-1851 in the village of Angarik. Two photographic documents confirming this fact, that is, that they were previously installed in the palace-Khauli Mohammed Aminkhan are stored in the funds of the Khiva Museum-Reserve Itchan Kala. On the photographs, the first Uzbek cameraman and Khorezm photographer Hudaibergen Divanov captured the appearance of the gate that was installed before the destruction of the palace-howli in the village of Angarik. Divanov specially filmed this gate at close range; at the bottom of the photo he left his inscription “Howli Mohammed Aminkhan in Angarik”. As mentioned above, at present this gate is the main entrance gate of the city.

Palvan Darvaza (Eastern) Gate of Itchan Kala

Palvan Darvaz (Eastern Gate) of the Khiva citadel of Itchan Kala and the square at the entrance was one of the busiest places of medieval Khiva. Here, in the 17th century, the baths of Anushakhan and the one-story building of the Khojamberdy-biy Madrasah were built.The chain of buildings of the ensemble at Palvan Darvaza also make up the Allakuli-Khan Madrasah, tim (trade dome), caravanserai, and on the other side of the square — Kutlug-Murad-inak Madrasah and Tash-khauli palace.

The complex of all buildings was created as vital needs arose. The saturation of the buildings was so great that some of them stood for the walls of Itchan Kala. Actually the Palvan Darvaz gate itself with loopholes and side towers are located at the intersection with the city wall. The facade of the gate is decorated in the form of an arched portal, behind which a “dash heap” (stone street) stretches towards the city — a corridor blocked by a chain of six domes. Behind the entrance arch there is a through multi-dome shopping gallery — “tim”, on both sides of which there are shops of merchants and a small bathhouse. A marble slab with a historical inscription “Shahri Khiva” (city of Khiva) and the date of construction — 1221 AH (according to the Muslim chronology), that is, 1806, remained at the entrance above the gate. This is the oldest part of the building, which is connected to the Anushakhan bath.

The construction of the gate was completed by Allakuli Khan in 1835. Until 1873, a slave market was located to the right of the gate at the exit from Itchan Kala, while runaway slaves and rebels waited for their fate in the niches of the gate. Khan decrees were also announced here and reprisals were committed against criminals. The gate is named in honor of the poet and invincible wrestler Palvan (or Pahlavan) Mahmud, who eventually became revered as a feast, that is, the patron saint of the city. Palvan means Bogatyr. In place of his grave, behind the Juma Mosque, the most magnificent mausoleum in the city was erected. In addition to the gate, the main aryk (canal) of the city, which feeds Khiva with water, is named Palvan Mahmud in honor of Palvan Mahmud.

Kunya Ark and Its Torture Chamber

Kunya Ark (opposite Mohammed Amin Khan Madrasah) is a fortress where the khans kept their residences. Established in the 12th century and expanded in the 17th century, it contains the khans’ harem, mint, treasures, stables, mosque, arsenal and prison. In the prison by the entrance you can see a display of chains and whips and instruments used for torture and executions as well of pictures of people being stuffed into sacks and tossed from towers. Executions were often carried out in the large square facing the Ark.

The summer mosque boasts a red, orange and gold roof and walls covered by exquisite white-and-blue floral tiling. Next door is the mint, now a museum with some money printed in silk. In the throne room the khan kept the royal yurt and passed judgment on people accused of crimes. It is said that if a victim was ordered through the right door he was to be executed. If he passed through the left door he was freed. If he was sent through the middle door he was imprisoned. At the top of the pavilion there are excellent views of the entire Ark and old town.

The old fortress Kunya Ark connects the western wall of Itchan Kala with the hermitage Ak-Sheikh-bobo. The construction of Kunya Ark began in 1686-1688. the son of Anush Khan, Arang Khan. At the end of the 18th century, Kunya Ark became a “city within a city” and was separated from Itchan Kala by a high wall. Once the fortress consisted of a khan’s office, a reception hall, a harem, a winter and summer mosque, a mint and outbuildings — stables, warehouses, workshops, etc. The present-day Kunya Ark complex was renovated in the early 19th century. The square near the entrance to Kunya Ark was used for military parades and training battles. There was also a special place for the execution of sentences and a zindan (prison) adjacent to the eastern walls of Kunya Ark. The entrance to the palace was guarded. Only a few buildings are left of the once densely built-up Kunya Ark territory east gate with a room for security; Ak-Sheikh-Bobo cell; kurinishhona — room for reception and registration of people; summer and winter mosques and harem.

The cell of Ak-Sheikh-Bobo is the home of Saint-Ak-Sheikh-Bobo, mentor of Sheikh Mukhtar Vali, used to play the role of an observation tower, and gunpowder was kept here. The first building — kurinishkhona — was built in 1686-1688 by Arang Khan and destroyed in the middle of the 18th century, during the invasion of the Iranians. The modern building was erected in 1804-1806 by Iltuzar Khan. Ivan Kurnishkhona was covered with majolica during the rule of Allah Kuli Khan. Kurinishkhona consists of several premises: an open courtyard, an aivan, a hall with a throne and side rooms in the western part of the courtyard (the Khan’s treasury, a room for manuscripts, a rest room). In the middle of the courtyard there is a round elevation, where a yurt was built, in which the khan received ambassadors of wandering neighbors.

The throne of the khan stood at the southern wall of the throne room; Now this throne is in the museum of Moscow. It was made of wood and covered with plates of silver with a thin carved ornament, made in 1816 by Khiva master Muhammad.

Harem Kunya Ark was built during the reign of Muhammad-Rahim Khan II. It is located in the northern part of Kunya Ark. The courtyard extends from west to east and is built up with living quarters — one-column aivans and one- and two-story rooms behind them. Khan’s room is more than three rooms of his wives. The total size of the harem is 3362 meters; courtyard 14,550 meters. The mint was built during the reign of Muhammad Rahim Khan I. It was built simultaneously with the summer and winter mosques. Overall dimensions 3423 meters; yard 1613 meters; summer mosque 7. 413 meters; winter 12,512,5 meters; Mint 1417 meters. A permanent exhibition dedicated to the ceramics of Khorezm was created in the fortress in 2010. The author of the subject-exposition plan was a researcher at the Museum-Reserve Bobodzhanov D. In total, the exposition features 284 items of Khorezm masters from ancient times to the present day. The exhibition area is 85 sq. m.

Akshih Bobo Bastion

Akshih Bobo Bastion (at Kunya Ark) stands on the ancient Khiva citadel on the fortified mud wall, fortified with semi-towers. It was bunk terrace or aivan, known under the poetic name “Akshi-bobo”, which means “old man in love” or “White Sheikh”. Now it is difficult to say what served as the basis for the name. So it seems that there is high, behind the battlements of the walls, a hermit who has retired from the world.

However, it is obvious that this house erected on the tower, “chardara keshk,” as such buildings are called in Khorezm, was intended for patrol service and served as a bastion. And indeed, this is a great observation post from here overlooking the whole of ancient Khiva. Before the gaze of the city appears from this oriental tale. A line of minarets pierces the sky, domes of mausoleums and mosques rise above the flat roofs of houses, the peshtaks of Madrasahs glistening with blue tiles rise above the shaded loggia galleries, the battlements of the fortress walls alternate with the monumental portals of the city gates. Among the labyrinths of the streets are the Khan’s palaces, the surrounding courtyards with elegant aivans.

Near the Akshi-bobo bastion, is the palace of Kurnish Khan, erected in 1806. This residence of the ruler was intended for official receptions. Traditional oriental architecture and the decoration of numerous palace rooms, decorated with magnificent majolica carpet patterns, attract tourists from all over the world. In the center of the palace of Kurnysh Khan there is a courtyard with ayvan on two slender columns. The walls of the quince are still covered with the richest carved mosaic panels with complex plant and geometric ornamentation. From the courtyard was the entrance to the throne room, where once stood a magnificent wooden throne, not preserved to our time. It is known from written sources that the throne was decorated with silver plate inserts, on which Khiva’s masters carved ornamental medallions with the finest patterns on a red background, and engraved lines from the Koran and the blessing of the sovereign’s reign skillfully interwoven into them. In addition to the throne room, the palace was a repository of the Khan’s treasury and a library with a collection of ancient Arabic manuscripts.

The luxury of the Khan’s palace and the architectural asceticism of Akshi-bobo, towering above it, argue among themselves, and at the same time complement each other, recalling the plot of an old Uzbek tale about the all-powerful padishah and the poor dervish.

Main Square Around the East Gate

Main Square Around the East Gate (Palvan Darvaza) is surrounded by an ensemble of buildings with the Allakuli-Khan Madrasah, Tim (trade dome), Caravanserai on one side and Kutlug-Murad-inak Madrasah and Tash Hauli Palace on the other side.

In 1831 a lake formed by the wastewater in the eastern part of Ichan-Qala. A drainage channel (zakhkash) was built to relieve the mess and large market square was built. The chronicler Hudayberdi Ibn Qoshmuhammed wrote: “Khiva market occupies a small area. Its area is approximately 5. 6 tanap (local unit of area measurement) and has been expanded at the expense of a small lake located in the eastern side of the city.”

In 1831 on the orders of the Khan, the residents of Khiva were given 45 days to fill in the lake and completely flatten the land so a bazaar could be built. Later, a large Charbagh (country estate with a garden) was placed nearby. Fruit and decorative trees were planted. Previously, below from it bazaar grain was sold and placed there. In the new bazaar baqqals (small traders). the people frying fish, selling foodstuff and cooking various foods took their place. This place was modestly called “rasta Bazaar” (“a market row”).

In the bazaar established in Khiva in the 1830s there were stalls for sale of grain, fruit, soap and candles. There was a number of barber’s shops and small trading houses. In the place adjoining the market slave were sold. Trade at this market helped Khiva develop profitable commercial relations with Bukhara, Iran and especially with Russia. In 1833, after the completion of the Harem in the Palace, Alla Kuli-Khan started construction of the caravanserai, a two-storied building of a caravanserai near the fortification walls adjoining the market. This market the completion of the market square. A multi-dome Tim (a trade passage) was built around the same time as the caravanserai. Soon afterwards Madrasah Alla Kuli-Khan was built.

Khiva Slave Market

The Khiva Slave Bazaar (Palvan Gate) was located within the Palvan Gate area. Sometimes whole caravans would be bartered over and sold after being captured and dragged through the desert, hands tied and with ropes around their necks to the bazaars of Khiva or Bukhara. Distrusted Turkoman raiders were only tolerated within the city limits due to the lucrative income that their slave trading brought. [Source: ^]

Nicholai Muraviev, a Russian who disguised himself as a Turkmen trader, wrote: "A young Russian (up to 25 years of age) fetches from fifty to eighty tillas. The Persian slaves are much cheaper. Of the latter there may be 30 thousand in Khiva, but there are not more than 300 Russian slaves there. The Persians...come into the market in batches of five, ten, and even thirty at a time. Their captors do not trouble themselves about them on the road and if they get exhausted, leave them without compunction to die on the steppe. On arrival at Khiva the owner sets himself down with them in the market, and purchasers surround him, inspecting and examining the poor wretches and haggling about their price as if they were horses... masters have the power of putting their slaves to death, but seldom avail themselves of this right from economical considerations. [Source: Nicholai Muraviev, “Journey to Khiva through the Turkoman Country,” English Edition, 1871 +++]

“The practice of catching human beings and selling them to the Khivans has become an absolute necessity to the nomadic tribes; that is to say, that the latter have to depend for grain on Khiva, and grain cannot be grown there without extraneous labour, so that the abominable trade has become an institution for the mutual benefit of Khiva and the predatory tribes, without which neither could exist." +++

“The first time a slave attempted escape they would have a whipping or an ear or minor body part cut cut off. But should a slave be suspected a second time of the intention of running away, he is nailed by an ear to a post or to the house door, and left for three days without food or drink, exposed to the jibes of passers by. Few survive this, as they enter on the ordeal with frames already exhausted by toil and hardship." +++

On the slaves he saw, Captain James Abbott, an Englishman sent on a diplomatic mission to Khiva, wrote: “The men are chained together by the throats at night. So that rest is scarcely possible, whilst the contact of the frozen iron with their skin must be a torture. My heart is full of heaviness when I think of all the heart-rending misery of which this system is the cause. Alas! He who once enters Khiva abandons all hope, as surely as he who enters hell. His prison house is girdled with tracks of desert, whose sole inhabitants are the sellers of human flesh." [Source: Captain James Abbott, “Narrative of a Journey from Herat to Khiva,” 1840)

Abbott was sent to Khiva in 1839 to convince the khan there to release all the Russian slaves there so that Russia would not have an excuse to attack and annex the khanate. Recounting his experiences in the book Journey from Herat to Khiva, he was captured by Turkmen, narrowly escaped execution and managed to make his way back to England. Captain Shakespear achieved the objective of winning the release of 418 Russian slaves in Khiva in 1840. Theses tactics delayed the Russian capture of Khiva, a stepping stone to Afghanistan, by 33 years.

Tash Hauli Palace

Tash Hauli Palace (Near the East Gate, facing the Caravanserai) was built in the 19th century as a residence for the emirs, his court and his harem. Now a museum, it boasts 163 rooms, three main courtyards and six smaller courtyards. The entire complex took 1,000 slaves over eight years to build. The first architect was impaled after the told the emir that his ambition of building it in three years was impossible.

The palace features impressive colored-tile facades, intricate carved-wood walls and pillars, and elevated ceilings designed to funnel in cool breezes. . In one of the courtyards is a wooden platform where the emir received petitioners and a stone slab where he erected his tent in the winter. Among the other parts of the palace that are open are the harem, adorned with wonderful geometric-patterned tiles, and the judgment hall, which contains a door reserved for people condemned to death.

Among the rulers of the East it was a custom since ancient times to build palaces to live, rule, welcome the guests and to show the power and strength of the State. Palaces were considered as a place where the khan and his family lived and public affairs were carried out. For this reason in the city of Khiva, there is not only one but several Khans palaces that have been preserved and extant in a complete architectural form. Tash Hauli Palace (officially The Palace of Alla Quli Khan Tash-Hauli) is one such palace. Measuring 80-x-80 meters, it is a gem of 19th century architecture and has mant similarities with the Kunya-Ark Palace.

History of Tash Hauli Palace

The palace was built by the Khan of Khiva Alla Quli Khan who lived in 1794-1842. According to historical data, various techniques were applied and its construction had several times been suspended and resumed again by a different architect. Inscriptions on carved wooden columns, marble slabs, ceilings, walls of an interior of the building report that the palace was under construction from 1830 till 1838. The construction period was divided into several periods. The mekhmankhana (43-x-36-meter Guest house) was built relatively early. The arzkhana (the reception yard) of Tash-hauli palace and the kurynyshkhana of Kunya-ark palace was built in 1832-34.

Having a majestic and magnificent view the palace was under construction for a long time. The best master architects, masters of an ornamental painting (naqqash), the master of production of a majolica (koshinpaz) were mobilized for its construction. Alla Quli Khan long prepared for construction of this palace.

When it was finished it was the most prominent monument of architecture of the 19th century in Khiva. In his memoirs, a Russian ambassador who arrived in Khiva in 1842, reported: “near the market of the Ichan-Qala one palace is located. It is framed by a high brick wall. The palace is home to the second son of the Khan of Khiva. In a magnificent palace Kun-Ark located in the western part of the fortress lived dignitary Khan of Khiva — Alla Quli Khan”. That information was confirmed also by Babajan tora, the grandson of Allakulikhan, according to his story at that time the son of the Khan Rakhimquli tora lived in Tash-hauli palace and carried out insignificant construction works in the palace.

Under the Soviets the palace was turned into a museum in 1922. Some of the Khan's relatives continued to to live in a certain part of the palace until1924. From the grandson of Alla Quli Khan Babajan tora (the prince) who at that time was still living, it was succeeded to learn some information on history of construction of the building and the purpose of use of each room of the palace. According to the data stated in the story Babajan tora there were 111 rooms in the palace. The manuscript written according to this story now is stored in the Institute of Oriental Studies of Academy of Sciences of Uzbekistan (Abdulla Baltayev’s manuscript, serial number 9321)

Many restoration works were carried out over the years. In 1982 — 1983 the ceilings aivans were restored. For restoration works conducted in 1976 — 1989 years in the harem part of the palace the State allocated and spent more than half a million rubles. In 1997 the restoration works were carried out on paving of the bottom part of the palace with burnt brick. Buildings and mehmankhana and arzkhana Tash Hauli palace were again restored in 2001 and were open for tourists. In these palaces currently are operating interior expositions? Such as: “Divanbegi”, “Mirza” and “Yurt”.

Parts of Tash Hauli Palace

The palace together with other buildings located near the eastern gate of Ichan-Qala made a single ensemble and the main public center of the city has shifted to this place. The palace was surrounded by a thick wall with towers at the corners. The structure of residential premises can be clearly felt in the location and extent of the harem rooms, in their communication and links between each other. The palace is deliberately extended in east-west direction because in this position the majority of rooms appear on the side facing the sun.

Tash Hauli means “Stone Palace.”The reason is was named this is its unusual magnificence and extraordinary beauty of its architectural forms and also that the walls of the palace were laid of Khorezm traditional burnt bricks of a square form in contrast to previous which were piled up of mud blocks (pahsovyh).

The three main courtyard areas are the kurynyshkhana (the reception area), mekhmankhana ((guest house) and harem and and also five small courtyard area and 163 rooms Typically, a square-shaped courtyard was surrounded by rooms around the perimeter. In the yard there are two round stone eminences (supаs) for yurts. In due time in these yurtas big feasts for the Khan’s guests were arranged. On the walls of aivan decorated with majolica verses of Ogahiy in Farsi are written. Tash-hauli palace has high towers, walls and a massive gate thatreminds one of a strengthened fortress

Major ceremonial receptions were held in the main aivan facing the north. Travelers, ambassadors who were at Khan's reception and talked to him used to liken the aivans to a stage of a theater. Ambassadors who came to the kurynyshkhana glorified Alla Quli Khan with epithets: “The master of Jeykhun the Emir of all cities of the country of Khorezm, the Ruler of Khiva, a descendant of Muhammad, peace be upon him, the mighty Shahinshah!” — and kissing the ground in front of him with a humble bow they spoke, — “Oh Shahinshah of immeasurable power, the master of sacred Khiva and Khorezm! Your generosity and mercy has no borders”!

The mehmankhana was decorated with glazed majolica tiles. Ceramist artist used a lot of light marine (dark blue) paint. Quite high main avian the walls smoothly coated with glazed majolica, ceilings with bright patterns, notched curtain rod and cupolas (bumps) give the court a picturesque and luxurious look. The yard of a mehmankhana has a clear shape, near a large aivan there are several subsidiary rooms. At the opposite side one large hall was built lieu of the three rooms. To the hall you can access from the patio of mulazimkhana (rooms for court servants), the Western Wall in which the door is installed does not have any decorations as over the wall, next to Dalan (long corridor), several rooms for the guards was settled down. A museum of history was located. In the harem part of the Tash Hauli palace from 1945 to 1983. Restoration started there in 1976 were completed in 1989, the same year in the harem building exhibition of the museum “Craft of Khorezm” opened,

Harem Palace Tash Hauli

At first the building of a harem was a quadrangle with the spacious yard of surrounded by one one- and two-story premises. The structure of residential premises can be clearly felt in the location and extent of the harem rooms, in their communication and links between each other. The palace is deliberately extended in east-west direction because in this position the majority of rooms appear on the side facing the sun.

The entire southern part of the harem was intended for four wives of the Khan, in the remaining rooms resided Yanga's (matchmakers) and servants. Naturally the most beautiful and comfortable rooms were allocated for madams (wives of the Khan). Chamber of each of them consisted of a single column high aivans (terrace), spacious room located behind the terrace and small rooms performing the functions of the barn (kaznak) or anzhamhana (room for storing jewelry and personal belongings). Behind the farthest avian located in the eastern part a corridor leading to the residence of Khan was located. This aivan was relatively higher than the others and more decorated and behind it there is a small corridor and two rooms which were intended for the relatives. To the room which is on the second floor of the aivan leads a special staircase. Five large aivans and premises behind them were richly ornated by graceful majolica tiles in a plex of Khorezm patterns and intended for Khan and his four wives.

Doors and columns of the palace are considered as one of the best models of Khivan art of woodcarving. In openwork carvings on marble pedestals for columns in iron panjara (artistic lattices) has found expression the most perfect art of the masters of Khiva. On the front of the marble columns stands for aivan located after the big aivans fringed floral patterns “islimi” inflicted sign denoting “eternity” of Genesis. It is said that the wife, who gave birth to an heir the Khan lived near the bedroom of Khan. The same sign is inflicted on the central part of the carved wooden column of aivans located at the very end of the harem. The sign in this place is not very conspicuous and respectively there has also to be some meaning. All premises facing the courtyard of the harem are richly decorated. Glazed panels with a variety of florid patterns, carved wooden columns and decorative marble coasters for columns, ceilings covered with ornament and overall free structure of the yard resembles a wonderful art gallery. Here every aivan and each panel is a striking work of art. The best achievements of folk master-artists in the field of architectural ornament and monumental applied arts and crafts find expression in the ornamentation of the walls of the harem. Floral, geometric (girih) patterns on large glazed panels of walls of the aivan and decorations on them do not like each other. Particularly finely executed carvings on the pillars and doors: — surface scape of the pillars filled two ternary carvings.

On ceilings, being reflection of a bluish majolica, henna-red (reddish-brown) colors are applied. Deserves the interest of the fact that on no one ceiling relief patterns girih and hauzak never meet repeatedly and samples of the patterns on the walls of the small aivans performed in a peculiar manner. Images of flowers bouquets are interpreted very freely and naturally. Complex and tracery carving on marble pedestals, nine bronze pandjara — is the result of striving of masters-chisellers in their entirety to demonstrate their high skills. The pillar of the main aivan on the east side is decorated with a very colorful and delicate patterns, patten flowers on a ceiling and walls are executed by extremely small and difficult ornament. Compared with the magnificently decorated courtyard — barn, dalan (long covered corridor) and balakhana look very unsightly. Dalan, Connecting avian of Khan’s wives with the living room of Khan slightly illuminated only by openings at the top. In order to pass into the yard or kurynyshkhana or arzkhana it is necessary to go through some semi-dark rooms-dalans.

Caravanserai and Tim Trading Dome

Caravanserai and the Tim Trading Dome (near the East Gate) are part of chain of at the Palvan Darvaza (East Gate) Square. They were on one side of the square with Allakuli-Khan Madrasah while the Kutlug-Murad-inak Madrasah and Tash Hauli palace were on the other side.

After the completion of the Harem in the Palace, Alla Kuli-Khan started construction of the caravanserai, a two-storied building of a caravanserai near the fortification walls adjoining the market. This market the completion of the market square. A multi-dome Tim (a trade passage) was built around the same time as the caravanserai. Soon afterwards Madrasah Alla Kuli-Khan was built.

The caravanserai and a covered market (tim) were finished in 1833. The caravanserai was built for receiving caravans. It two gates (western and eastern) were equipped for the arrival of goods loaded on camels, processing the goods and preparing the camels for their departure and journey onwards or back to where they came from. Through a gate the middle of walls of a caravanserai lead to the trading house. The trading house was two stories high and had 105 hujras (cells).

Rooms of the first floor served as shop fronts for the merchants. Rooms at the top floor functioned as a mekhmankhana (hotel). The building was planned very conveniently and simply, it consists of a spacious yard with two-storied building cells surrounding the yard of the caravanserai. All hujras of the caravanserai faced the courtyard. Only the second row hujras located on the southern part, like hujras (cells) of the Madrasahs faced the square. The hujras are overlain in the traditional way: “balkhi” style with arches of an identical form. They clearly differ from arches facing the courtyard. The road leading into the courtyard is lined on both sides by portals. Inside the wings of the portal spiral stone staircases lead to the second floor.

The rent for a storehouse was 10 soums a year; for khujdras (housing) 5 soums, paid with silver coins (tanga). Nearby was a madrasah. To get inside the Madrasah one had to pass through a special room, go past the freight area under the twin domes of pass into the courtyard of the caravanserai. To make it more convenient for loading goods the middle of the courtyard sat in a slight depression. Due to the fact that the building was overloaded with activity from the mekhmankhana (hotel), barn and shopping area, later on and indoor shopping area was attached.. Today, the Tim building and caravanserai seem to be a single whole, but are careful examination inside walls of these buildings were separate based on the remains of the portal of the caravanserai and the lower part of the arch. Guldasta (floral bouquet) still can be seen on the remains of the corner towers.

Skilled Khiva masters very skillfully constructed domed Dalan (spacious long corridors) of the Tim. Two rows of small domes converge at the larger dome in front of the caravanserai gates exactly the same they do at the entrance to the dome in the western part of the Tim. Despite the fact that the bases of the domes are a complex in shape (in a quadrilateral or trapezoid form, or in a hexagonal shape), the masters easily managed to construct using an imaginative constructive solution. The Tim's interior is illuminated through the holes arranged under the domes. A specially-appointed rais (person in charge) was responsible for keeping the order in the market and making sure the weights were correct. If someone committed a breach of the established procedure or norms, or engaged in abuse and treachery, he was immediately publicly chastised and punished with blows from a darra (thick belt whip) in accordance with the law

According to the established requirements of the time foreign merchants rented hujras for a few years. Trade caravans that were in constant motion provided these merchants with goods. This implies that at this caravanserai they traded not only with local merchants, but also with Russian, English, Iranian and Afghan traders. In the market it was possible to find a Khivan alacha (striped cotton fabric of handicraft work), silk belts, as well as, unique jewelry of the Khorezm masters, English cloth, Iranian silk with mixed yarns, silk fabrics, wadded blankets, belts, Bukhara boots, the Chinese porcelain, sugar, tea and there are a lot of various such kind small goods.

Inside the caravanserai there was a Divankhana (a room for special government officials) where the prices were set for the goods brought by merchants and traders. There was also an room for “Sarraf”s (moneychangers) who exchanged money of merchants from different countries at the existing rates. Here the Divanbegi (Head of Finance) charged “Tamgha puli” (fee for stamping, permission stamp to import, export and sell goods). All the collected money went not to the Khan’s treasury but was spent to the maintanance of the library of Alla Kuli Khan Madrasah built in 1835. The presently building of the caravanserai like many of the buildings in Khiva was restored in the Soviet period using traditional methods

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Uzbekistan Tourism website (National Uzbekistan Tourist Information Center,, Uzbekistan government websites, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Japan News, Yomiuri Shimbun, Compton's Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Updated in August 2020

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