The largest slave market in Central Asia, striving trade center of the Silk Road in the middle of the desert – Khiva city, one of the biggest tourist attraction of Uzbekistan. The history of Khiva city goes back thousands years. The city is so old that the date of foundation is unknown. There is a legend that the founder is Shem, Noah’s son, who dug a well in the middle of the dessert. When people begun drinking from the well, they found taste of the water delicious. People exclaimed “Khei-vak’’, which means “delicious water”.
As time passed, a small township around the well turned into caravanserai and became part of the Great Silk Road. This well exists till these days, in one of the parts of Khiva is Ichan-Kala. Due to Ichan-Kala, Khiva is on World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Unlike other cities, like Bukhara, Khiva wasn’t a large trade center of the Great Silk Road, yet it was a flourishing town.
Many caravans travelled through Khiva, the town was invaded and destroyed several times. The Arabs, Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Amir Timur, and many others took over the city. There isn’t another Uzbek city, or Central Asian city with ancient parts being in such good condition. Ichan-Kaleh is a historical and architectural monument. It gives a feel of authentic atmosphere of an ancient Central Asian city.
The city is divided in two parts: Itchan Kala, the inner town and Dichan Kala, the outer town. Most of the population of Khiva is concentrated in Dichan Kala, while Itchan Kala is an open-air museum with stunning examples of Islamic architecture, which didn’t change with time. There are 50 architectural monuments in the old town. The walls of the old city were constructed for protection from invasions and keeping slaves inside the town. The graves near the walls acted as a protection. In medieval times, it was believed that brave spirits will protect the city. Being buried outside the Itchan Kala was considered an honor.
Also, carrying a corpse through the city gates was a bad sign. Khiva city is accumulation of the best examples of Central Asian architecture. The atmosphere of Khiva lets to experience events of the past and get lost in it. Khiva excites any traveler, Ichan-Kaleh is worth getting lost in.