Kibla Tozabog – Khiva Khan's summer residence

 

In Khiva time has spared about 50 ancient madrassahs and just a few khans’ palaces. All of them are of certain interest to tourists since they vividly show the architectural tendencies characteristic of Khorezm over several centuries. It was Khan Muhammad Rakhim II, «a poet on the throne», known in Uzbek Literature as Firuz, who initiated the construction of Kibla Tozabog summer residence with its orchards and flower gardens.

The complex is an amazing combination of traditional Khiva architecture that took shape in the Middle Ages, and new Europeanized architectural techniques. A typical hauli country estate of a rich Khiva resident became the prototype of Kibla Tozabog. Such an estate looks like a small fort. Even today these hauli estates can be found in the suburbs of Khiva and Urgench. Their architecture developed many centuries ago and was intended for protecting the residents from numerous brigands as well as from the scorching sun. The castellated wall of a hauli usually has an adobe turret at each of the four corners and a turret on either side of the gate. Inside there is a large yard with fruit trees and grapevines, and several dwelling structures.

Kibla Tozabog has a castellated wall, too. The wall is made of pakhsa adobe blocks. It has semicircular buttress turrets resembling watchtowers of ancient fortified settlements. The entrance passage which leads to the residence is blocked by huge gate decorated with carvings. Inside a visitor is met by the greenery of the lawns and leaf rustling of century-old trees.

The palace had a few ceremonial reception halls, living rooms, and a treasury. Following the local traditions the façade of the one-storey palace has ayvan terraces and deep loggias with tympanums and small side towers. Along the perimeter of the palace runs blue mosaic belt; it goes round the towers and fills the tympanums. As though conflicting with oriental architectural traditions, the walls of the palace have tall windows, positioned at the height of 50 centimeters from the floor. In the ceremonial halls of the palace Khiva’s traditional carvings and patterned paintings commingle with chandeliers and fireplaces. Such a loyalty to new architectural ideas is characteristic of Khiva’s estates of the late 19th – early 20th centuries. It also testifies to the policy Khan Muhammad Rakhim II, an enlightened monarch, pursued: to get closer to the West while preserving local traditions.

Kibla Tozabog became a paradise-like place thanks to its well-groomed gardens, shady ayvan structures, where it is pleasantly cool even in hot summer days, and comfortable dwelling structures. Today it accommodates a health center where one can nicely spend weekend and taste the dishes of Khorezmian cuisine: pilaf, mampar, and the exquisite dish of the khans - tukhum-barak.