Notes on the Geography of Uzbekistan: Khiva
The Amu Darya, a mighty river, forms an inland delta about 200 miles from the river's mouth at the south end of the Aral Sea. In that delta and surrounded by a sea of irrigated cotton, is Khiva, founded in 1512 by Ilbars, one of the Shaybanid Uzbeks. By the mid-19th century, Khiva was the center of Central Asia's slave trade. Russia was outraged, and General Kaufmann was sent in. He took over in 1874, when the city's population--by the guess of a visitor, Fred Burnaby--was about 25,000. The Soviets eventually decided to make the place an outdoor museum. They forced its residents to new districts outside the city wall. Now, people are returning--so far, about 2,000.
Here's the wall--rectangular, about a mile on a side. We standing at the high point of the Ark, or citadel, at the city's western edge.
We've turned around. The iwan below is part of the citadel, whose outer wall lies beyond. On the other side of that crenelated wall is a madrasa with a famously ambitious but incomplete minaret.
Here's a closeup of the Kalta, or "short," minaret, left incomplete in 1855 at the death of its builder, Muhammad Amin Khan.
Muhammad Amin Khan had planned to make it twice this high.
The tiles change color as the sun rises and sets.
We're back in the citadel again. Keep your eye on the two minarets in the distance. We'll head to the one on the right, then the one on the left.
It's the Islam Khoja or Islam Khwaja minaret and madrasah, named for a vizier assassinated in 1913. Although it may look ancient, it was built in 1908 by an architect named Hudaibergen-Khoja.
Any comparison to the Kalon or Great Minaret in Bukhara?
It's more colorful, but its masonry lacks the texturing that the Kalon Minaret inherited from the Samani Mausoleum.
Yes, we can go up to those windows.
The view is dominated by the brilliant dome of the mausoleum of Pahlavan Mahmoud. Smaller tombs cluster around it.
The truncated Kalta Minaret is in the background, and the dark room a little more than half way from there to the right edge of the picture is the high point on the Ark from which the first pictures in this group were taken.
Panning to the right we find the other minaret. It's older--built in 1788.
The large building on this side of it--the one that looks like a modern warehouse--is the hypostyle hall of Khiva's jami masjid or Friday mosque. From inside, there's a staircase up to that little window near the top of the minaret. OK: We'll do it.
From the top, here's the view back to Islam Khodja.
Here's Pahlavan Mahmoud. Got your bearings? Now we can look at these places, and a few others, in more detail.
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