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Khiva - Itchan Kala


Wedged between deserts, a strip of green land emerges along the banks of the Amu Darya River. Khiva, the great walled city of the Khans, lies here, still echoing the glories of the Silk Roads.

Large, intact walls form an impenetrable barrier with four ornate gates at each direction. Inside, splendid madrassas, minarets and monuments dedicated to the Khans adorn the alleyways filled with bazaars of silk, jewelry, trinkets and treasures. The aroma of freshly brewed tea cultivated from distant mountains mingles with the smell of kebabs. Every where you look, it is a feast for the senses. A transportation to a time lost among the modern world, only those from whispers of explorers of the past. Remarkably, this scene likely plays out the same in the 13th century as it does when wandering the streets of Khiva today. Along the thousands of miles along the Silk Roads, perhaps no other place echoes the glories of the past as much as this walled city exudes. It is a slice into a remarkable period of history.

Pondering memories along the Silk Road makes it easy to forget what actually happened though. Khiva, first recorded as a city in the 10th century really grew in importance a few hundred years later as the seat of the Khanate of Khiva. The grand constructions, though initiated by the Khan, were built by Khiva’s numerous slaves. In fact, Khiva became a leading slave trade center in Central Asia, where by the 19th century, over a million Persians and high numbers of Russians were transported and sold through Khiva’s walled city. While wandering the streets of Khiva, reflect also on its dark past - the horrors of losing freedom and the torture endured by thousands. Traveling along the ancient routes was a brutal game of life vs death. You may pass out through the harsh desert barely scraping on, only to find yourself captured and sold into slavery. Those who do make it through though, have stories and riches to last a lifetime.

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How We Got Here

We took the long, eastward route across endless desert steppe to reach Khiva, passing Nukus and the desert castles along the way.

The Highlight

First stepping foot into the walled city felt like we entered a medieval world, although cliche it sounds. Khiva really is an unique oasis set amongst otherwise barren terrain.

Our Treasure

Staying in an 18th century madrassa converted to accommodation was truly special. It was situated in the heart of Ichan Kala.

Explore More

    ➨ Caravans and Conquerors - Read the Story

S N A P S H O T S   O N   T H E   R O A D

W H E R E   W I L L   Y O U R   J O U R N E Y   T A K E   Y O U   N E X T ?

Khiva was a much needed respite from the harsh terrain you previously, and narrowly, passed. There is some good news - the next few outposts are along some of the most established trade networks, starting in Bukhara. Enjoy the relative security, as beyond it proves daunting.

Continue your journey through the heart of the Silk Roads

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