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12/06/2010

Kalta-Minor, Itchan Kala, Khiva (Xiva, Хива), Uzbekistan (O‘zbekiston, Ўзбекистон)


This is a close-up photo of the Kalta-Minor (the "Short minaret"), taken in Itchan Kala, the walled inner town of the city of Khiva, Uzbekistan.
Since 1990, Itchan Kala has been protected as the World Heritage Site. 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.
Kalta-Minor is a short, yet enormous, minaret which stands before the facade of the Muhammad Amin-khan Madrassah. The minaret and Muhammad Amin-khan Madrassah were intended to finish the plan of the big square near the western gates of Ichan-Kala.
Kalta-Minor should have become the biggest and highest minaret in Central Asia. Its massive base is 14.2 m in diameter. However, construction was interrupted upon the death of Muhammad-Amin-khan in 1855 after a battle with the Turkmen as historian Munis reported. Legend has preserved a better version. A Bukhara Khan found out about the construction of a grandiose minaret in Khiva and agreed with its architect on the construction of a taller minaret in Bukhara. The Khiva Khan became angry and ordered the architect to be thrown from the minaret, which stopped construction. In any case, the structure rose to only 26m.
Decoratively speaking, the bright blue minaret of Kalta-Minor has no equal in Central Asia. It is the only minaret whose surface is entirely covered with colored glazed tiles.

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