World Heritage #0543 – Itchan Kala

Last modified 27.03.2022 | Published 16.06.2014North, Central and East Asia, Uzbekistan, World Heritage Sites

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Let us us all go back to the old caravan routes of the Silk Roads, and to Itchan Kala in the oasis of Khiva.

The UNESCO World Heritage List includes more than a thousand properties with outstanding universal value. They are all part of the world’s cultural and natural heritage.


Official facts

  • Country: Uzbekistan
  • Date of Inscription: 1990
  • Category: Cultural site

UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre’s short description of site no. 0543:

Itchan Kala is the inner town (protected by brick walls some 10 m high) of the old Khiva oasis, which was the last resting-place of caravans before crossing the desert to Iran. Although few very old monuments still remain, it is a coherent and well-preserved example of the Muslim architecture of Central Asia. There are several outstanding structures such as the Djuma Mosque, the mausoleums and the madrasas and the two magnificent palaces built at the beginning of the 19th century by Alla-Kulli-Khan.


My visit

In 2014 I arrived in Khiva after a full day on the desert road from Bukhara, thinking what that journey would have been like in the days of the Silk Road caravans – taking three weeks. UNESCO holds Bukhara to be the most intact old city from that era, but in my opinion Khiva is a fierce competitor. Here I found contemporary life very basic, the old mud brick building technique was still in use and life inside the huge 650×400 meter walls was very easy-going.

Read more about my visit.

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