I am pretty sure that if you are thinking of the SILK ROAD your soul is sparkling and you will dream of the colorful fairy tales of 1001 nights .
This time I will tell you about a gorgeous ancient site that is loacted at the Silk Road in Uzbekistan , to Hiva .
During the old Egyptians time the silk road was a network of trading roads which starting point was in the Northeast of China in Xian and which passed the Wall of China , then the Pamir Mountains to Aphganistan and thento Anatolia to reach out to the Mediterrean Sea .First these trading roads were named as Spice Roads but later due to the trade of silk from China to the West the name changed to silk Hundreds BC first the Egyptians , then the Romans and latest the European kings were usuing this road settled between the East and West for trade until the 15th century but once the seaways were discovered in the 15th century the silk road started to loose its importance .
The silk road was about 6400 km long and the trade was done in both ways .The Western traders were selling wool , gold and silver to the East .
Via the silk road not only trade was made but also cultural exchange took place .
For example religious ideas were also exported to the different regions .India was bringing buddhism to China , while the European were promoting christianity to the east.
Via the silk road contageous deseases were also brought to the different areas .Goods were carried with camel caravans as camels were the only animals to stand the tough conditions of the local climate and the deserts .
What we did was also just to take a flight to Urgenc , an airport that nobody ever has heard of , an flew to Uzbekistan to see the traces of the ancient times and the silk road in this interesting country .
Once we arrive in Urgenc we start our route through Uzbekistan that will lead us to Hiva , Buhara , Semerkant and Taschkent , the ancient cities that we will explore over here .It is in spring in the month of April and we have perfect weather . The weather is clear and sunny and we have about 20-25 degrees celsius which is perfect for a walk through the ancient sites .After half an hour drive with the car from Urgenc we arrive at our first destination , the ancient city of Hiva .
it is early in the morning and the sun ist just going to rise .In front of us is the earthcolored Itchkan Kala and the ancient city walls and the sun lights are beginning to enlighten the city .
The city walls are about 10 m high and have been first built in the 10th century and later restored in the 17th century .The ancient city is still asleep but we start our walk to our hotel along the walls and begin to admire the ancient site already .
We are passing by ancient graves which are at the walls side .Shaman flags are waving above those graves in the wind.We just leave our belongings to our boutique hotel and continue our walk and observe how the city is slowing awakening .
The city of Hiva is an ancient destination on the silk road where trade took place .In 1991 Hiva was declared a UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE site .It is very interesting to observe that the local people of Hiva are just continuing to live in their ancient city . The houses are the same , the gardens and their behaviour and daily life is the same .People are just doing their jobs as in ancient times as well , sellers open their shops , street sellers arrange their street tables , the imam go to the mosque to prepare for their prayers , the carpenter is opening his shop to do his handcrafts , the shoemaker is opening his shop to repair the shoes and to sell some .So many things are the same as like hundreds of years ago .
A camel in mid of the city reminds of the old camel caravans .
Today cars are standing here and there but not too many .
During our walk through the city it is very quiet and the people are very friendly and smiling at us .The sun is getting higher , it is getting warmer and the city is now awake .
We just pass one of the eleven huge , beautiful wooden carved city gates and enter the center of the city .The gorgeous city and its gorgeous buildings are just standing in front of us.
Just at the entrance traders who are selling local berets made out of goat wool in white , grey and brown color are loudly crying to catch our attention for their goods .
These kind of local berets are giving warmth in winter when it is really cold and on the other hand they protect you in summer from the intensive sun .
I always love to walk on pebblestone streets in ancient sites , so are the streets here in Hiva .Part of the streets are quite narrow , probably also to protect from the climate but the places are really very huge and impressive and kids are playing everywhere .
One by one we visit The Medrese of Muhammad Amin Inak , the Medrese of Allahkulu ,the Taş Havlu Palace ,the Mausoleum of Pehlivan Mahmud , the İslam Hoca Minaret , Ak Mosque an numerous arcs ,domes , towers , minarets and huge city gates .
The whole ancient city is in a sandy color while the tiles have decorative elements in blue , green and white colors .
It really looks awesome !
In the mid of the city the Tower of Kalta Minor in blue color is ascending to the sky .
It s assumed that Hiva was a very rich trade city located at the silk road being 1500 years old .Within the city walls there are about 50 historical buildings and about 250 historical shops .
It is said that most of all these buildings were built by 10.000s of Persian and partly Russian slaves in those centuries .
Most of these historical buildings are originally from the 10th century but lateron restored in the 17th and 18th century .
For insatance the famous Cuma Mosque with its 12 wooden carved columns is really blowing us away with its beauty .
The Medrese and the Palaces that belong to the Hiva Han Dynastys are decorated with blue tiles which also look beautiful .
For a certain period Hiva was influenced by the Persian culture and architecture while later starting from the 10th century onwards it comes under Turkish cultural influence .
Numerous important thinkers , poets and scientists of their period grew up and lived in this beautiful city for hundreds of years .
In the 19th and 20th century though the area comes under Russian influence and part of the Russian Empire . After the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in 1925 Uzbekistan becomes part of the Soviet Union in those days and is called the Uzbek Soviet Republic .
In 1991 when the Soviet union comes to an end all the countries of Kazakistan , Kırgızistan ,Turkmenistan ,Tacikistan ,Azerbaycan and Uzbekistan which have been former Turkish states gained one after the other their indepedence and hereby also Hiva as a city gained its independence .
Today about 100.000 people are still living in the ancient city .As Hiva is located at the Ceyhan River you may see blooming cherry trees and peach trees with white blossoms and giving the old city a beautiful ambiance .
Though the near surrounding of Hiva is a desert , it is remarkable that all the old streets in the city are very clean and well maintained .
The restoration of the historical buildings is well amde and there is nothing disturbing the ancient site Just due to the fact that the city is built on a sandy ground , some of the buildings are a little shifting to the one or the other side and looking trapezoid but the government tried to correct the standing of these buildings . All of the historical buildings have huge wooden doors with extraordinary beautiful carvings .
There is a light wind blowing while we walk around .There are just few tourists besides us which is great as the whole city belongs to us and preserves its original flair.
In the evening we are invited to a nice restaurant in a historical environment with a beautiful garden with huge green trees . There is some moonlight , the air is warm . It really smells like 1001 nights and the silk road nights . It is really unique what we experience here .
A table is nicely prepared with local food and a group of local musicians is singing local songs and is dancing .
Salads with fresh pomegrade , diverse types of ravioli , dried fruit especially dried local grapes , soup with meat ,spicy meze , samsa with meat and local bread are the richness of our table .
Local Hiva Pilav which is rice with meat and carrots and spicesand made with butter is very special and delicious .
These type of food show us that this city is part of the silkroad as they remember us of the rice , the ingredients and spices that were brought to this place from the Eat as well as silk and porcelain that were transported on very difficults trips by the camel caravans in those historical days .
It seems that that not too much has changed since then . While walking trough this beautiful site you can esily imagine how the old days and life was looking like .It seems to be untouched and mystic in this way .
The city seems to be totally cut off from the rest of the world and that is why you feel as if you are changing your time zone and doing your city walk ina different time zone centuries ago which is gorgeous .
Uzbekistan was a country that was not very open to tourist after the 90th after they got their independence. Just nowadays it is getting far more open to Western tourists and it is easy to travel around without any problems .I just recognized Italian and French tourist who found their way to this destination and start exploring it .
I believe that it is important to visit and explore those destinations and the localt cultural values as early as possible before they are oevrrun by tourists and hotel chains and touristic agencies . Then everything will lose its original flair which will be a pity .
For this reason I definitely recommend to visit these places soonest before time and the world is changing those !
I would like you to see the moon and the star rising above the minarets and towers of Hiva once you raise your head as I did and explore the secret corners of the Eastern world .
You will definitely love it and will not believe your eyes .
The whole city of Hiva looks like a place out of the fairy tale book of 1001 nights and like a movie plateau You wil be easily able to imagine the colorful life of the silk road , the vivid trade and the traders and the slowly moving caravans .
I am prettu sure that you are curious about the other silk road ancient cities that we have visited on this tour but no doubt there will be a blog about all of them and for sure you will enjoy all of them and will feel as if you are travelling in that ancient time zones .