As you wander through the sun-baked streets and lanes of Khiva do take time to notice not just the architecture but also the details which will provide variety and add atmosphere to your photos. A carved door, an especially beautiful piece of tile work, a small window letting in a shaft of light – all these will contribute to the overall picture you paint of this gem of a city.
Even more so will images of the people add to the story your photos can tell and, as everywhere in Uzbekistan, most will be very happy to have there pictures taken. Look out for friendly shopkeepers, smiling children and Uzbek families visiting the sights. And make sure you look down the side streets too as their tranquillity can make them seem as if nothing has changed in them for centuries.
Have some shade and relax in the parks
It is not easily visible at once, but you have a lot of possibilities to retreat from the heat and sit somewhere in the shade within Khiva.
There are some parks with little stone benches an big trees which give you plenty of shade to relax for a while. One is close to where camel Misha sits and waits for tourists (which is where I took the picture of the old man). Another one is behind the music museum close to Kalta Minor, and some more are in the street which runs parallel north of the east-west main street.
The Silk Road
Silk -that most sensuous and luxurious of fibres - spun from the gossamer fine filament of the cocoon of a voracious caterpillar, its source a closely guarded secret kept by the Chinese for centuries - this was the fabric, so valuable and so desired, that it gave its name to the whole network of trade routes that fed out of China, across mountains and deserts, bringing not only silk but other luxuries such as porcelain and paper, tea and spices to the countries of the west that wanted them but had no idea of how they were produced.
The name is redolent with mystery and adventure. To travel the Silk Road is one of the great dreams of travellers everywhere. In actual fact, there is no one "Silk Road". The great caravans stopped their journeying long ago - the ravages of the Mongol hordes and the European discovery of sea routes to the east saw to that, and the name itself is a 19th century conceit.
Any journey through Central Asia will take you to places that were once major trading cities along the route whichever way you go, but Khiva is the place where the rule of the khans and the old ways of trade (including a thriving market in slaves), with all its brutal grandeur came last and stayed latest. Here time truly stands still and as you drift around the quiet streets and silent passages and courts of the palaces you can almost sense the swish of a robe around a corner and the soft murmur of voices in the harem that was occupied within living memory.
An excellent website
Whoever put this website together, they've done a fantastic job. Check it out for interactive maps, compehensive coverage of the city's monuments and treasures - major, minor and all-but-ignored, local legends, practical advice and a whole lot more. If anything I or other VTers have written has captured your interest in Khiva, a visit to this site could well see you contacting your travel agent forthwith.
Khiva – and visiting Ichon Q'ala
Khiva's attraction is the old city, called Ichon Q'ala. If I am referring to Khiva, I always mean this part, although it also has the so-called Dichon Q'ala, the new town, surrounding it.
I highly recommend you stay minimum one night, to get the most out of your visit to Khiva. Two days would be even better, if you have time enough. I stayed two nights and spend one day, but now I regret not having stayed one more day.
Wherever you stay, either inside or outside of the old town, you will have to pay the entrance fee. You can walk through the city without paying, but as soon as you enter one of the buildings, they will require seeing your ticket.
Entrance fee is paid at the gates; I paid mine at the western gate. It was 7000 sum per person, additional 2500 sum for taking pictures.
Be aware that you would need to pay extra entrance fee at Juma mosque (1000 sum) and for the viewpoint within the ark (2000 sum), but both do not require additional payment for pictures taking.
At the gates, you can also get a small city map for 1000 sum.
(All prices as of July 2006) Well, again to the question how much days you should spend in Khiva.
All what I described above, I saw within one day. But I should have spent 1 additional day, as there are much more sights I now wish to have seen.
These would be:
Within Ichon Q'ala:
· all city gates, from both sides (inside the old city and outside),
· the bathhouse at the eastern gate,
· Ak mosque at the eastern gate,
· the caravan seray north of the eastern gate,
· the bazaar at the eastern side.
Within Dishon Q'ala:
· Isfandiyar Palace: a summer palace of 1912, overly decorated and painted just 300 m est of the northern gate);
· Chaudra Khovli: another summer residence of a Khiva nobleman (11 km east of the centre).