Never has a drop of water in the desert been so precious or so valuable. Never has a waddle of mud and brick walls been so glorious. Never has a sea of minarets and tiles had this hypnotic harmony of colors. This is Khiva (or Jiva), another of those essential places on the Silk Road that legend and footprints on the sand have made immortal. In the extreme southwest of Uzbekistan, a stone’s throw from Turkmenistan, an extraordinary city magically appears and takes us to an original setting from any tale of the Arabian Nights.
While there are plenty of places to visit there, you might not be sure which one you should see. But we’ve got you covered. This is the third part of our article, we recommend you check them out.
The Friday Mosque has a wonderful patio with wooden columns that is worth a visit. There are a total of 212 colonnades that support the structure and are delicately carved, as if each one were a work of art in itself. No two are alike and apparently some were used in the previous construction, so their antiquity is evident.
There are many mosques in the city, but if you had to choose just one to enter, we would say this one. It also leaves the possibility to climb to the top of its minaret.
Minaret of Islam Khodja
Next to the Madrasa of the same name stands the highest minaret in Khiva, at 51.5 meters. A perfect place to see the city from above, even if climbing to the top coulf feel like a real torture. Each step can be an obstacle, a challenge to be taken up. For it won’t be like climbing the stairs of your own house, far from it, but to have an idea, there will be moments when you will have to lean on the next step to go up better. And so it goes until 112.
It’s hard for us to think of any poor man who has to go up to call the faithful to prayer five times a day with his songs. Probably when he is up there, he is out of breath… and out of words.
The reward for so much effort is, of course, the view from above. There you would be able to touch with your hands a sea of domes and alleys. It will be like unfolding a map of the city to start pointing out the corners and circumstances.
Of course, climbing the minaret is worth it, but we recommend doing it first thing in the morning, before the tourist groups arrive (and the heat if it’s summer) which can make the climb really unbearable.
The Puppet Shop of Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves
Not everything has to be monuments, palaces or religious buildings, right? Here’s a recommendation about a little corner of the city that you should visit. A few meters from the western gate, inside Itchan Kala, near the foot of Kalta Minor (the unfinished minaret), there is a small store dedicated to the handcrafted production of beautiful papier-mâché puppets. Figurines representing people from Uzbekistan, dressed in their traditional costumes and hats, can be purchased at a fairly modest price. Although, without a doubt, the most difficult thing is to choose just one.
In the calm of a starry sky, when the tourists will leave before sunset, the city of Khiva will remain empty under a dead silence that moves. Green and warm lights will illuminate some monuments. One will hear one’s own footsteps bouncing on the brick and tile walls. It is then that the city of the thousand and one nights will be all yours…
Which places will definitely be on your itinerary when traveling to Khiva? We would love to read from you. Share your views in the comments below.