"Khiva - Fairy Tale of 1001 Nights" Top 5 Page for this destination Khiva by Trekki

Khiva Travel Guide: 199 reviews and 1,220 photos

Khiva – Xiva – Хива

Please make sure that you don’t miss what Leyle of the WanderingCamels wrote about Khiva .
She was the one who “brought” me to Uzbekistan and Khiva with what she wrote here on VT.
As of October 16, I do not feel well to be above her in the Khiva travel guide. She writes with much more passion, eloquence and style than I can ever do - so please don't miss her writings !!
Thanks !

Update: December 2007:
I have worked on the photos (sharpened them for better viewing in www) and have added GoogleEarth coordinates. No new tips, no new texts.

Walking around in Khiva feels like being in the middle of a fairy tale of 1001 nights – you almost expect the camel treks arriving, unloading their buckets and bales, and people dressed in richly decorated dresses walking by.

But still, you might be more of a spectator and not participating in the scenery, as the scenery does not have much life. Yes, of course, there are a lot of people walking around, sipping tea, relaxing under shady trees, and the souvenir shops and streets are full with vendors selling all kinds of stuff. But there is a certain unreal atmosphere in the old town – almost as if all is artificial only.

I have a mixed feeling about Khiva – I found it very fascinating, my first trip ever into an Islamic country and its magic architecture, but on the other hand it was too clean, too tidy, too pure – almost like a movie’s piece of scenery.
Also, for me as a “newcomer” into such a country and city it maybe has (or had) too much interesting sights, so that my senses have been a bit overstrained with all the tile work, madrassahs and palaces. Somehow this reflects in my pictures. I have realized that I did not take much “overview” pictures, but concentrated on the details. A bit unorganized….
Either this was the heat, which really exhausted me quite much (I am not suitable for walking around in 45° C in the shade all day), or it was the fascination with this town and its sights, so that my eyes constantly traveled without my camera to follow.

But – as I have read somewhere – Khiva does not unfold its real beauty and magic to the first time visitor, but expects him to come back, discover more, feel more, see more.

So I will come back one day.

For now, let me show you the introduction chapter of what Khiva showed me.

Khiva’s troubled past

Khiva’s history dates back some hundred years B.C., it celebrated 2500 years in 1997.

In the vast Khorezm desert, Amu Darja river was and still is used to irrigate the land and thus grants quite fertile soil. A lot of tiny oases have developed at the time of ancient Silk Road here, feeding the merchants who traveled to the Caspian sea and back.

Legend says that Shem, Noah’s son, once traveled in the region and dug a well to quench his thirst. There is still an old well in the northern part of the old town, which claims to be Shem’s well. Another legend says that Mohammend passed along one day, drank the water and exclaimed “Khiva”, which should mean “oh, how tasty is this water”. This is, according to the legends, how Khiva got its name.

The town is first mentioned in 10th century and becomes the capital of Khorezm end of 16th century, then Khiva Khanate was formed. These were the days when the city gained importance as a busy slave market, but it was known as well for brutal and terror under the khans’ government.
Nadir Shah conquered and destroyed it mid of 18th century, but around 1780 the city walls were rebuilt and more buildings have been constructed. But then the Russians defeated it, so that since 1924 it was under control of the Soviet state.

The Soviets realized the importance of Khiva’s old city, and its historic buildings are protected since 1967.

Somehow, the Khiva’s isolation among the other khanate cities has resulted in a specific development of art, such as majolica, woodcarving and paintings. If you walk around in the city and take your time to look at all the details, you will soon realize how delicate all the artwork is.

Take your time and visit the many little museums in the madrassahs and palaces, they will give you lots of side information to understand Khiva’s outstanding role among the other silk road cities of Uzbekistan.


All pictures have been taken by me, if not marked otherwise.
Please do not use any of them without my permission.
The same applies for my writings here.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Quiet - beautiful - excellent conserved buildings - lot to see and learn about architecture
  • Cons:a bit of an open air museum - lacks the real daily life
  • In a nutshell:Still worth to see and visit
  • Last visit to Khiva: Jul 2006
  • Intro Updated Sep 22, 2013
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Reviews (31)

Comments (36)

  • mindcrime's Profile Photo
    Jan 9, 2015 at 6:56 AM

    great page! I think I wouldnt spend more than one full day though but that depends on how many days I'll have in total (probably 8-10 days)

    • Trekki's Profile Photo
      Jan 9, 2015 at 10:58 AM

      Thank you K :-)) I think you would like Samarkand and Bukhara more (I did), but Khiva was my first town (after Tashkent). But after Samarkand and Bukhara Khiva felt more like an open air museum. Plus the lack of a local market :-)

  • BruceDunning's Profile Photo
    Apr 7, 2010 at 12:59 PM

    What a nice description of this area and Khiva overall. It all has such a past history of strife and wars, and now trying to get into the economic culture competition. YOu did a great job in detail, as usual.

  • lynnehamman's Profile Photo
    Oct 13, 2009 at 6:56 AM

    I enjoyed our walking tour. Your attention to detail is amazing- the Islamic architecture I must confess is my absolute favourite. The tiles, colours.Would be interesting to know about the Zoroastrian connection. Wonderful pictures. I will be back.

  • evaanna's Profile Photo
    Aug 16, 2009 at 12:50 PM

    This is another great page of yours, Ingrid and I very much enjoyed walking with you among the minarets and mosques of Khiva. Beautiful pictures as ever and the panoramas in your links are just stunning.

  • deecat's Profile Photo
    Feb 13, 2009 at 3:14 AM

    I'm speechless, Ingrid! LOL about Misha. Your descriptions are a marvel. I especially found your tips on minarets, Old Fortress wall & gates, mausoleum and tombs, & stone palace so enchanting. Photos are breathtaking.

  • LoriPori's Profile Photo
    Jan 23, 2009 at 4:55 AM

    Enjoyed sharing your Khiva experience. Much culture and beautiful architecture.

  • hindu1936's Profile Photo
    Feb 1, 2008 at 2:53 AM

    Thank you for such good info and photos on Khiva. Will look forward to reading the rest of your pages and will seek them out.

  • MalenaN's Profile Photo
    Nov 19, 2007 at 10:49 PM

    Great photos Ingrid of the beautiful details around in Khiva! You found some lovely places for afternoon tea!

  • rjaparidze's Profile Photo
    Nov 10, 2007 at 3:47 AM

    Thakn you for your page. Very good indeed. Greetings from Georgia

  • Oct 24, 2007 at 4:09 PM

    Hi - do you have any photos of the food? I have a project to let people share food photos from around the world - at www.BeenThereAteThat.com - and would love to have you add yours! Thanks!


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