Madrasahs of Khiva

Khiva was focused on developing religious education and religious debate, and its wealthier residents open to beat each other by building larger, richer and more elaborate madrassas. Eventually, at the beginning of the 20th century in Khiva were 65 madrassas, 54 of them within the city walls. A collection of the most impressive examples is introduced here, although there are many more you will find just wandering in the streets of Khiva.

Mohammed Rakhim Khan Madrassah

Muhammad Rakhim-Khan madrasah is one of the largest in Khiva and the most popular in Central Asia.

Mohammed Amin Khan Madrassah

Along with the unfinished Kalta Minor it was intended by its patron, Mohammad Amin Khan to be the centerpiece of a grand new ensemble. 

Matniyaz Divan Begi Madrasah

Matniyaz Divan-Begi Madrasah was built in 1871 in the center of Itchan Kala next to Muhammad Amin Khan Madrasah. Development of the structure was carried out by Muhammad Niyaz, the Minister of Finance of the Khivan ruler Muhammad Rahim Khan II. Next to the madrassah was established a covered bazaar under his direction as well. The creation of Matniyaz Divan-Begi Madrasah harmoniously blended traditional architecture of the region with the latest 19th-century trends. Since 1979, a restaurant has operated in Khiva’s Matniyaz Divan-Begi Madrasah.

Matpana Baya Madrassah

Formerly intended as a place of Islamic instruction in 1905, the Matpana Baya madrassah was converted into a museum of atheism under the Soviets. After independence transformed into a museum of religion. The madrassah cells house exhibits displaying cavemen, ancient and polytheistic religions as well as mono religions. The former communist exhibits have been taken away, leaving a space that has yet to be ideologically loaded. 

Kutlug-Murad Inaka Madrasah

Kutlug-Murad Inaka also written as Qutlugh Murad Inaq madrassah is settled on the east side of the Ichon Qala, directly to the northwest of the Ak Mosque and opposite the Alla Kuli Khan Madrasa. It was built by Kutluk Murad Inaq, the uncle of Alla Kuli Khan (the third Khan of Khiva 1825-1842) and houses his tomb. 


According to legend, a person who dies outside of Khiva’s walls (Kutluk Murad Inaq was murdered by a rival) could not be buried within the city, hence, when he died outside, part of the city walls had to be removed to avoid this restriction. 

Allakuli Khan Madrassah

Allakuli Khan madrassah was built in the middle of the 19th century by the order of  Alla-Kuli-khan in 1834-1835. The structure stands between the covered bazaar Tim and the eastern gate of Palvan-Darvaza. 

The madrassah is truly impressive and striking with its beauty and grace. The structure is designed with the painted majolica in black and white and blue tones, covering vertical surfaces, semi-arches and false structures. Madrasah has a rectangular shape, which has 99 cells. The portal is traditionally split into two parts: the right is the mosque, and on the left lies a large classroom. Earlier, there was a library on the first floor, which stored books for all students of Khiva. Now it is once one of the largest madrasahs of Khiva and serves as a museum of the history of medicine named after Abu Ali ibn Sina.

Khojamberdibai Madrassah

Hojashberdibiya Madrasa is the oldest madrasah in Khiva, parts of which date from 1688. The madrassah stans near the the eastern gate Palvan-Darvaza in front of Allah Kuli Khan Madrasah. 

A significant rebuild for Allah Kuli Khan in 1834 split the site in two and the new layout was supposed to resemble a saddlebag. It was eventually nicknamed Hurjun because it resembled a leather saddlebag called hurjun. The madrasah includes two yards of different sizes, a Darwaza khana separating them, 16 hujras and a domed square shaped room darskhana. 

Shergazi-Khan Madrasah

The madrassah lies in the center of Ichan Kala, on the south part of the Pakhlavan-Mahmud mausoleum. It was built in the first quarter of the 18th century during the realm of the Shergazi-khan (1715-1728). The majestic madrassah Shergazi-Khan was constructed by 5,000 Persian slaves taken by Shergazi Khan on an attack at Meshed in 1718. 


The slaves were guaranteed their freedom once the madrasah was complete, yet fearing that he would deny the deal. They took out their anger on the project manager and murdered him inside the unfinished madrassa in 1720. An inscription over the madrassas door remembers what purportedly was his final words: ‘I accept death at the hands of slaves’. The madrasa’s most famous student was the Turkmen poet Makhtum Kuli. 



Other Sights in Khiva

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