What I found most fascinating in Khiva's old city were the smaller minarets, which have not been mentioned in the city guidebooks. But you find them only when walking off the main streets and the crowd.
My most favourite was Tura-Murad Tura minaret, which is in the street parallel to the east-west main street; more or less north of Rahim Khan madrassah. It is tiny but so beautiful and simple (built in 1888).
The other one I liked was a "no-name" minaret just outside of the eastern gate. Also very simple in the structure and decoration.
There must be more out there, maybe you like to discover them.
Coordinates on GoogleEarth (Tura-Murad Tura Minaret):
This river flows to the north and east of Khiva, and cuts off this corner of Khorezm province from the rest of Uzbekistan. It is properly known by the name of Amu Darya, but in ancient times it was the Oxus, one of those places you’ve heard of in old history lessons but never dreamed you would see (another was the Euphrates which we saw some years ago in Syria). So I was thrilled to realise that to leave Khiva and drive to Bukhara we would have to cross the Oxus, and as we did so I grabbed a couple of photos. The bridge itself was unusual and thus also worth mentioning here. Our guide in fact told us it’s the only one of its kind in the world though I have no way of checking that. Its uniqueness stems from the fact that it is single track for road vehicles and trains.
We stopped a bit further down the road where there was a view of the river from above (second photo), though I would have welcomed a chance for a closer look than this.
If you’ve always hated algebra, here’s the man to blame! Mukhammad ibn Musa Al-Khorezmi lived about 780-850 and was the chief mathematician in an academy of sciences in Baghdad, though he came originally from Khorezm province. He is credited with introducing a decimal-based numbering system in the Arab world, and his name, corrupted by western attempts at pronunciation, gave rise to our word “algorithm”. He also wrote what is thought to be possibly the first book introducing the notion of algebra, which he called “al-jabr”, an Arabic word which I have found variously translated as "filling in" or “calculation”.
This striking statue of him is just outside the city walls of Khiva – to your right as you look at the western gate from the exterior.
You will have to go outside the old city, pass the western gate to find this interesting palace. It has not yet been fully restored to its past glory, but the medersa and the reception hall are worth a look.
The Citadels are not exactly in Khiva, but a couple of hours away. They are reachable from Khiva, and make a wonderful three quarters of a day excursions.
Three citadels are usually visited by tourists: Toprak Kala and the Kyzyl Kala nearby (wich was a two storey citadel hosting soldiers defending Toprak Kala). Toprak Kala is quite imposing, and you will be able to get a rough idea of how the place looked liked 25 centuries ago, since you can still see the plan of the citadell. Two rooms are still standing...
The third citadel is that of Ayaz Kala, a bit further away. Actually, there are two citadel and one mansion that are on the same site. The biggest of them is way up high on a hill. The walls are fantastic, huge, still standing... but nothing is left inside. From there you have a magnificent view on a nearby lake and on the smaller citadel, standing on a smaller hill, and onto the mansion, at the foot of the smaller hill.
It's definitely something to see.
Pass the Northern Gate of Itchan Kala, walk straight ahead for a few minuts... and you'll fall on what used to be the Double Gates of the "old" new city of Khiva.
This goes back when the "old" city of Khiva (Itchan Kala) was already too small to contain it's population, and that Khiva had spead outside it's protective walls. The Local Governor had decided to erect an other big wall for protection, and this is what is now left... What is quite surprising is that it's a double door, which allowed circulation on both ways!!!! Modernity!!!