Kunya-Ark — photo 1

The richest history of Khiva attracts people’s attention since ancient times. A legendary city, which many tried to conquer. Having a border with Turkmenistan, Khiva was one of the most important points on the Great Silk Road. It was the capital of the Khanate for a reason, as well as the capital of the Timurid Empire, because the favorable location brought a good income to the treasury, and caravaners spread fame about the city throughout the continent.

There is an ancient legend saying that 2500 years ago, the history of the city began with the Kheivak Well. A small settlement, located near a well, soon grew into a huge city.

This well still exists today and is located within the walls of the monumental fortress Itchan-Kala, which is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, as well as all constructions that are inside it. The heyday of construction fell on the XVIII century, and many outstanding buildings were built during this period, but there are also older and perfectly preserved attractions.

The northwest gates, where guards used to stay, protecting the city from enemies, is now open to visitors. One of the most attractive creations of Khiva architecture, Kunya-Ark, is located nearby. The sight has not survived to this day completely, but it is still in very good condition, preserving the history of conquests through the centuries.

In the first half of the XVII century, under the rule of Khan Mohamed-Enrek, there was a need for additional strengthening of the city. Thus a citadel appeared inside the walls of Khiva, which was called Kunya-Ark, or “City inside the City”.

Kunya-Ark — photo 2

The construction was completed by the end of the XVIII century. Today you can see the inner parts of the fortress and imagine the life that was going on within its walls. Inside the fortress there were several important objects: Khan’s Friday mosque, harem, chancellery, summer and winter residences for rest of the ruler, as well as mint and stables. There were also a court and a place where prisoners were sentenced.

In the Kurinish Khona (the reception hall), the Khan received guests; on the south side there was a throne room. Iwan was decorated with stunning maiolica patterns in traditional colors: light blue, dark blue, and white. Skilful woodcarving on the columns is well preserved, but the maiolica was severely damaged and now there are only some fragments remained. There was also a powder plant inside the fortress. In case of attack, ammunition was always in place. There were also kitchens and warehouses for food, so the fortress could withstand a long siege.

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