Saturday, October 6, 2007

Uzbekistan - Khiva

The last of Uzbekistan's 'golden triangle' ancient silk-route cities that I visited was Khiva. Although the most remote and inaccessible of the three, Khiva is without a doubt the most compact and for this reason is perhaps the best-preserved and most enchanting. Although Khiva doesn't quite boast the gargantuan structures of the magnitude of Samarkand's Registan or Bukhara's Kaylan Tower, but the pristinely kept walled city, with it's beige walls and colorful turquoise minarets makes a captivating open-air museum that takes you back all the way to the times of the ancient Khorezm Khanates.
Khiva is not an easy place to get to. The closest train station or airport is in Urgench - about an hour away. I took the night train in from Samarkand and flew out to Tashkent. Khiva is also en route to Nukus, the portal to the notorious Aral Sea. Located in the Karakum Desert, it can also get pretty hot in the summertime, when it also gets a little too quiet. However, Khiva definitely should not be missed. There are plenty of cheap and comfortable places to stay within the Ichon Qala (old city) and your trip to Uzbekistan will not be complete without a visit to all three of Uzbekistan's silk route city-trinity.
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