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Khiva is the central town of Khorezm province, located in the oasis of Khorezm to the south and west of the Aral Sea on both sides of lower reaches of the Oxus (Amudarya).Throughout its history Khorezm an isolated oasis accessible only by long and hazardous caravan routes across the formidable deserts Karakum and Kyzylkum (Black and Red sands) or across the equally dangerous, lifeless plateau Ust - Urt.
The first capital of Khorezmshahs Gurganj because of devastations and the changes in the water system (the Amudarya river changed its course) was abandoned and the population shifted to eastwards, upstream, where Khiva became the new capital of the independent principality of Uzbeks in the late fifteenth century. Some time in the seventeenth century one of Uzbek khans Aulghazikhan finally transferred the remaining population from Gurganj to the neighborhood of Khiva, where the present Urgench - new Urgench was founded. Nowadays Khiva is one of the most beautiful architectural cities in the world, included in the UNESCO list.
Ichan - Kala (the Inner City or Fortress of Khiva) has a completely preserved belt of 2 kilometer long walls with ramparts, bastions and gates, built partly of clay and partly of sun - baked bricks. The majority of the Ichan - Kala’s architectural monuments were constructed in the first half of the nineteenth century. The mausoleum of Pahlavan Mahmud, Abdullakhan’s Palace, medreseh and caravan - serai, the medreseh of Mukhammad Aminkhan and the complexes of royal palaces Kunya Ark (Old Castle) and Tash - hauli (Stone House) are particularly interesting examples of the later architectural styles. The Djuma mosque ( Friday, or cathedral mosque) is a vast structure with a light roof supported by rows of 212 carved wooden columns.
The skyline of the city is dominated by two minarets: the Ko’k Minor (Blue minaret), also called Kalta Minor ( The Short Minaret), and the tall and beautiful Islam-Khoja minaret.Kalta Minor is remarkable for its unusually large diameter of 16 meters and the predominance of green and yellow in the color - scheme. It was begun in 1852, but remained unfinished. The Khodja Islam minaret (1908) is the last notable architectural achievement of the Islamic era in central Asia.