Khiva, north-west of Uzbekistan republic in Xorazm district. The town lies in an oasis near Kara Kum desert. Once a slave trade center, it was the capital of Xorazm Kahanate in the sixteenth century before the Russian conquest in 1827. Today Khiva is an important city of modern Uzbekistan and, probably, one of its main touristic attraction. This was the fourth stage in our tour along the old silk road.
The historical town, Itchan Kala, is an UNESCO world heritage, a brilliant example of late middle age fortified settlement with its defensive walls perfectly preserved. Inside the fortifications, many buildings date from the twelve till the seventeenth century. Khiva is a spectacular example of Islamic Architecture in Central Asia but it is not only a monumental city, as it is full of life and humanity.
Some of its ancient mosques and madrasahs are absolute masterpieces. The Djiuma mosque, for example, with its carved wooden pillars or the Pahlavan Mahmoud mausoleum with its wonderful tile decorations, they are really impressive. The Kunya Ark, the royal palace, is probably the oldest structure and from the terrace of its tower you can admire a coloured sunset with the Dichan Kala (the external city) under your eyes and the desert under the horizon line. The most iconic monument of Khiva is undoubtedly the Kalta Minor Minaret, with its blue and green tiles and its particular cylindrical shape. It was never completed and many legends arose around it.
To visit the museums and buildings of Khiva you must buy a unique ticket available at the main west door (Ota Darvoza) entrance. Some special tickets are available inside, for example those to climb the minarets. Particularly from the Islam Khwaja madrasah minaret, the tallest with its 45 metres high, the landscape over the entire city is a breathtaking view. Please, remember that stairs in the minarets are very tighten, there is almost no light and they are really steep so the climb could be at least unpleasant if there are many people. This is not a rare possibility as Khiva is an important touristic attraction also for local people so it can be crowded especially in the week-end.
A part from its historical and artistic interests, Khiva offers a nice traditional craft production, mainly carpets, wood carved products, embroidery, stone objects and hats. Take a look around you while walking along Khiva main street, there is only the spoiled for choice.
Accomodation in Khiva is not a problem. There are many different solutions, suitable to any need and budget. I personally preferred to stay inside the old town to feel its vibes especially in the evening when the crowd disappear and the alleys are lonely. In this regard, let me thank all the staff of Meros B&B for their warm hospitality and their support during our stay. This is a little but typical family run hotel, very nice and very well located. Anyway, it’s up on you, there are some comfortable classic hotels just around the old citadel. The most important thing to remember is to book in advance!
Uzbekistan, and Khiva consequently, was a great experience. We discovered a country different from our and, moreover, we met its friendly people I’m sure I won’t forget. Everywhere we got a warm hospitality, feeling that people were pleased by our presence.
To get the best from a trip like this, it is fundamental to rely on local resources. We found a higher level of competence I could not imagine. It is mandatory for me to thank Responsible Travel, an uzbek tour operator located in Jizzakh but contactable from every part of the world (www.nuratau.com). It was our referent for logistic, tour planning, transports, etc. Ask for Mr. Sherzod Norbekov, whatever you may need he will find the best solution for you.
Some technical information. Mostly for filming I used an Olympus OM-D EM5 MKII mirrorless camera and a GoPro Hero 7 black. For Color grading, post-production and editing, I used Cyberlink Powerdirector suite 5, as always. Photos, in this film, as in the others, are mostly by Francesca Sparatore, shot with a Nikon D3100.
The track “Lost and Found” is by Jeremy Blake and is available on YouTube Audio library.
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