Itchan Kala

Itchan Kala in Khiva

Itchan Kala is the walled inner town of the city of Khiva, Uzbekistan. Itchan Kala is located to the South of the Amu Darya River in the Khorezm region of Uzbekistan. Itchan Kala was the last resting-place of caravans before crossing the desert to Persia. Since 1990, it has been protected as a World Heritage Site.

Itchan Kala has over 20 thousand centuries history. The inner town has 26 hectares and was built according to the ancient traditions of Central Asian town building, as a regular rectangle (650 by 400 meters) elongated from south to north and closed by brick fortification walls that are up to ten meters high.

The property is the site of 51 ancient monumental structures and 250 dwellings and displays remarkable types of architectural ensembles such as Djuma Mosque, Oq Mosque, madrasahs of Alla-Kulli-Khan, Muhammad Aminkhon, Muhammad Rakhimkhon, Mausoleums of Pahlavon Mahmoud, Sayid Allavuddin, Shergozikhon as well as caravanserais and markets. The attributes are outstanding examples of Islamic architecture of Central Asia. Djuma Mosque, a mosque with a covered courtyard designed for the rugged climate of Central Asia, is unique in its proportions and the structure of its inner dimensions (55m x 46m), faintly lit by two octagonal lanterns and adorned with 212 columns. The madrasahs, which make up the social areas, have majestic proportions with a simple decoration, and they form another type of Islamic architecture specific to Central Asia.

The place of the architectural heritage of Itchan Kala in the history of Central Asian architecture is determined not only by the abundance of surviving architectural monuments, but also by the unique contribution of Khorezmian master builders to Central Asian architecture and preservation of its classical traditions. The domestic architecture of Khiva, with its enclosed houses with their courtyard, reception room with portico or avian supported by delicately sculptured wooden posts, and private apartments, is also an important attribute of the property that can be studied in its 18th- and 20th-century morphological variants.

The old town retains more than 50 historic monuments and 250 old houses, dating primarily from the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries. Djuma Mosque, for instance, was established in the tenth century and rebuilt from 1788 to 1789, although its celebrated hypostyle hall still retains 112 columns taken from ancient structures.

The most spectacular features of Ichan Kala are its crenellated brick walls and four gates, one at each side of the rectangular fortress. Although the foundations are believed to have been laid in the tenth century, present-day 10-metre-high (33 ft) walls were erected mostly in the late seventeenth century and later repaired.

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