Along with Samarkand and Bukhara, Khiva is an important and often-overlooked historical site on what was once the Great Silk Road. Famous for its long and brutal history as a slave trading post sandwiched in between the vast Kyzylkum and Karakum deserts, Khiva is now a quiet, sleepy oasis that awaits busloads of tourists instead of caravans of captives.
It's difficult to imagine what exactly ancient Khiva was like, considering the historical areas were restored to a scrubbed and squeaky-clean look in the 1970s. However, the clustered array of mosques, madrassahs and tiled minarets within an area of less than 3 km give you a sense of how crowded and bustling this town must have been throughout its history.
Khiva is divided into two distinct sections; one being the older, museum-like Ichon-Qala or Itchan Kala (literally: within the wall) where striking examples of Islamic architecture were built over the span of 600 years; and the modern Dichon-Qala (literally: outside the wall) where both the majority of the population live and where all of the modern buildings exist, but glimpses of Khiva's greatness as a center of Islamic power still linger.
Top Sights of Khiva