Itchan – Kala

Itchan – Kala.

Itchan Kala, the inner fortress of Khiva, is located to the South of the Amu Darya River (known as the Oxus in ancient times) in the Khorezm region of Uzbekistan and it was the last resting-place of caravans before crossing the desert to Persia.

Itchan Kala has a history that spans over two millennia. 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.

However, the outstanding qualities of Itchan Kala derive not so much from the individual monuments but also from the incomparable urban composition of the city, and from the harmony with which the major constructions of the 19thand 20th centuries were integrated into a traditional structure.