Khiva, the pearl of the West of Uzbekistan. How to reach it.
The birth of the city of Khiva starts with an ancient legend: Sem, the son of Noah, had came here millennia ago and had ordered to dig a well. It is said that this well is still active inside the historical district, the Ichan Khala.
The historical documents mention Khiva indicating it as one of the meeting points along the Silk Road. Many people have passed through here invading the surrounding territory; just mention Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan and Tamerlane.
When the course of the river Amu Darya changed and destroyed the nearby capital Kunya-Urgench, Khiva became the center of the local khanate, in 1598. More and more flourishing as a spiritual reference point for the Islamic world, the town was fortified and it has become the largest place for the slave trade. The ferocity of the inhabitants was so high to make real raids in the neighboring territories of Persia and southern Russia to capture slaves and sell them to the merchants.
The route was stopped only in 1873 by the Russians, who conquered Khiva and they annexed it to the Khanate of Turkestan. With the arrival of the Soviets, the city became the administrative center of the Khorezm region in 1924. Today it is one of the most attractive tourist places in Uzbekistan, thanks to the variety of surrounding landscapes.
How to reach Khiva
The historic city of Khiva is located in the west of the country and is not well connected to other popular tourist destinations such as Samarkand or Bukhara.
If you are in Samarkand or Tashkent, you can take the night train to Urgench; the nearest town to Khiva. The train is not daily and if you rely on travel agencies you pay an inflated price. From Tashkent the train leaves around 20.20, while from Samarkand at 00.30. The arrival time is scheduled for midday.
There is no direct train from Bukhara; but you can take a marshutka or a shared taxi always to Urgench. The taxi fare is about $ 13 per person, depending on how good you are to negotiate. The journey takes 6 or 7 hours. You can find these means of transport in the southern car park of the Karvon Bazaar. Line buses are cheaper, but they take twice of time to get there and the rule is that the drivers do not leave before the buses are full!
From Urgench there are trelleybuses that leave every 30 minutes from the Bazaar and arrive in an hour at the northern gate of the historical center of Khiva. The cost is 0.50 cents, with which you can admire the stretch of landscape that separates the two towns. Shared taxis leave from the Bazaar near the Stadium and take 30 minutes to arrive; the average cost is 1 dollar per person.
Photo by Katerina
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