Khiva is one of the historical cities in Uzbekistan , its history connected with the history of the legendary Khorezmshahs State with its capital in Urgench before and its one of the noteworthy of the cities in Uzbekistan. Its situated on the left bank of the Amudarya river, in the southern part of the modern region of Khorezm. It is unique monument town, completely preserved in the cultural style of the region. Khiva still keeps the atmosphere of the old times, and its similar to the open air museum. And the nucleus of the museum – castle Ichan Kola. It is inside the fortress concentrated all the architectural masterpieces of Khiva. Everyone who enters the fortress are among the marvelous minarets, stone-paves alleys curves, leading to a madrassahs with lacy rough mosaic of the ancient walls. This oriental tale in 1990 was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The origin of the name Khiva is unknown, but many contradictory stories have been told to explain it.
A traditional story attributes the name to one of the sons of Prophet Noah(AS): “It is said that Shem(AS) [from whence the word Semitic is derived], after the flood, he found himself wandering in the desert alone. Having fallen asleep, he dreamt of 300 burning torches. On waking up, he was pleased with this omen, he founded the city with outlines in the form of a ship mapped out according to the placement of the torches, about which he had dreamt. Then Sim dug the ‘Kheyvak’ well, the water from which had a surprising taste. It is possible to see this well in Ichan-Kala (an internal town of Khiva City) even today.”
Another story relates that travellers passing through the city, upon drinking the excellent water, would exclaim “Khey vakh!” (“What a pleasure!”) and hence the city became known as Kheyvakh, whence Khiva.
A third proposal is that the name comes from the word Khwarezm, altered by borrowing into Turkic as Khivarezem, then shortened to Khiva.
In the early part of its history, the inhabitants of the area were from Iranian stock and spoke an Eastern Iranian language called Khwarezmian. Subsequently the Iranian ruling class was replaced by Turks in the 10th century A.D, and the region gradually turned into an area with a majority of Turkic speakers.
The earliest records of the city of Khiva appear in Muslim travel accounts from the 10th century, although archaeological evidence indicates habitation in the 6th century. By the early 17th century, Khiva had become the capital of the Khanate of Khiva, ruled by a branch of the Astrakhans, a Genghisid dynasty.
In 1873, Russian General Konstantin von Kaufman launched an attack on the city, which fell on 28 May 1873. Although the Russian Empire now controlled the Khanate, it nominally allowed Khiva to remain as a quasi-independent protectorate.
Following the Bolshevik seizure of power after the October Revolution, a short lived Khorezm People’s Soviet Republic was created out of the territory of the old Khanate of Khiva, before its incorporation into the USSR in 1924, with the city of Khiva becoming part of the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic
Khiva is split into two parts. The outer town, called Dichan Kala, was formerly protected by a wall with 11 gates. The inner town, or Itchan Kala, is encircled by brick walls, whose foundations are believed to have been laid in the 10th century. Present-day crenellated walls date back to the late 17th century and attain the height of 10 meters.
Kalta Minor, the large blue tower in the central city square, was supposed to be a minaret, but the Khan died and the succeeding Khan did not complete it.
The old town retains more than 50 historic monuments and 250 old houses, mostly dating from the 18th or the 19th centuries. Djuma Mosque, for instance, was established in the 10th century and rebuilt in 1788-89, although its celebrated hypostyle hall still retains 112 columns taken from ancient structures.
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