After arriving in Tashkent the previous night, I was back at the airport again for my flight to Khiva (or Xiva in Uzbek), my next stop in Uzbekistan. The only things I saw in Tashkent were my hotel room, the airport and the restaurants. I should definitely come back for more. I felt as though my 15-hour stay (of which 7 hours went to sleeping) did not do justice to what used to be the fourth biggest city in the good-old Soviet Union.
Nevertheless, I was happy to move on to Khiva. After all, Khiva was my most anticipated destination in Uzbekistan. And it did not betray my expectations; from its towering minarets to tranquil mosques, Khiva was immensely beautiful.
.. Khiva is often referred to as "the Museum under the Open Sky" for its rich collection of well-preserved historic architecture. Some people may be put off by Khiva's polished exterior, which oozes with the Disneylandish feel. The Soviets purged Khiva of its bustling city life and turned it into a permanent open-air exhibition. This was done with good intentions, of course. Many buildings, including mosques (and we are talking about the Soviet Union here!), were restored in the 70's. But, yes... Admittedly, Khiva can be a bit touristy. The well-preserved mosques and madrasahs have little religious significance and are more like shopping malls teeming with aggressive vendors. But at the same time, Khiva is still very much a living city. To dismiss Khiva as a fake and sterilised version of its former glory is a mistake. There are up to 40,000 people living in Ichan-qala, the historic walled city. Explore beyond the main attractions and souvenir shops, and you shall encounter curious children shouting "hello" at you and elderly men playing chess all-day long.
At night, Khiva was practically dead. There is basically no nightlife to note of. But because it was dark outside, you get a spectacular view of the stars. It is definitely worth looking up at the stars at night. Some of the attractions in Ichan-qala were beautifully illuminated (in a subtle manner) too. Day or night, Khiva is best explored on foot!
Xiva Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
Yurt Restaurant is one of those establishments in Khiva that specifically cater to tourists. At your request, you can dine in the yurt or on a "supa,"… read entire review
Xiva Sights & Attractions review
Ichan-qala is the walled part of Khiva. The area outside the wall, on the other hand, is caled Dishan-qala. Most of the attractions in Khiva are conve… read entire review