A view of the Madrassah in 1877A view of the Madrassah in 1877
Taken from 'Khiva Caught in Time'Taken from 'Khiva Caught in Time'
One of the most impressive buildings in Khiva, this lavish Madrassah has also served as a prison and today has exchanged it's 250 Koranic students for the far more lucrative tourist market. It was built in the 1850's by Khiva's most prosperous Khan, Mohammed Amin.
His vision was of a Madrassah unequaled in beauty and comfort, boasting the highest Minaret in the Muslim East. A Persian Architect was commissioned, who styled the Madrassah after the finest Persian Caravanserai. Parts of the city wall were knocked down to accommodate the courtyard, and the upper story cells were fitted with unusual, outward facing balconies, moving away from the introspective architecture common to Madrassahs. The cells were considered particularly lavish, with two rooms per cell, and with a staggering dowry which, when Vambery visited in the 1860's, was worth an estimated $2500. The madrassah was one of only three in Khiva to contain a Summer Mosque and the Muslim Court was held here.
The Madrassah todayThe Madrassah today
Outward facing cell balconiesOutward facing cell balconies
Door with prison hatchDoor with prison hatch
Hatch close upHatch close up
The Madrassah continued to function until closed down by the Communists, however, it was soon full of the faithful once more as it became a prison for religious dissidents during the Stalinist purges of the 1930's. The carved doors had a hatch cut into them, which can still be seen today, through which the prisoners were given their daily rations.