Itchan-Kala of Khiva; Minaret Kalta Minor and Muhammad Amin Madras
The city of Khiva owes its fame to the historical monuments contained in the Itchan -Kala, or its historical center. Remarkable are the walls that surround it: up to 10 meters high, up to 6 meters thick and about 2 kilometers long; they present only four entries located for each cardinal point.
The interior monument that most represents the city is the Minaret of Kalta Minor, for its particular structure and for the precious turquoise majolica tiles that cover the entire surface with decorations in Islamic style.
The base of the minaret is 15 meters in diameter and is 29 meters high; however it had to be much higher according to the initial project: 70 meters! The construction was interrupted with the death of Khan Muhammad Amin, assassinated in 1855.
Like any self-respecting Uzbek place, the minaret Kalta Minor (“Short Minaret”) has its legends. One of them says that during construction, some inhabitants had begun to complain about the work. The Khan, who had heard about it, had the person in charge of bad moods captured and buried alive at the base of the minaret. Another legend tells that when a Khan from the neighboring regions learned of the construction of the high minaret, he hired the same architect to build an higher one. When the voice came to the Khan of Khiva, he ordered to kill the architect who instead managed to escape elsewhere. The Kalta Minor was not so completed (but legends remain legends).
Muhammad Amin Madras
Built from 1851 to 1854, again by order of Khan Muhammad Amin, the Madras is one of the largest in size throughout Central Asia, with its 72×60 meter base. The intent was to give accommodation to 260 students; indeed the number of cells are 125, arranged on two floors. The peculiarity of the construction is that each cell has a double room; while in the upper floor, a room and a loggia overlooking the inner courtyard.
The madras has five cupolas, side towers and it’s embellished with floral decorations withmajolica of predominant turquoise colour. The intent of grandeur is also expressed by the inscription on entry: “This magnificent building will stand here forever for the joy of its descendants.” The Madras is located next to the Minaret Kalta Minor and in front of the Arch of the Citadel, called Kunya.
By the time of its construction it served as an Institute of Education for hundreds of students throughout the region. It also housed the Islamic Chancery of the Khaganate. Sad to say, the building is nowadays used for various shops and also for a hotel.
For the story of Khiva and suggestions on how to reach it, click here.
Photo by Katerina