Arab Muhammad-khan Madrasah, Khiva

The Arab Muhammad-khan Madrasah - monument in the heart of Ichan-Kala

The Arab Muhammad-khan Madrasah in Khiva is one of the oldest madrasahs among the other architectural sites of Khiva. It is situated in the very heart of Ichan-Kala next to another madrasah of Muhammad Aminkhan, not less famous but built later. The madrasah was built by order of the Khorezm ruler shaybanid Arab-Muhammadhan in honor of the country’s capital which was moved from Urgench to Khiva.

Arab Muhammad-khan, after whom the madrasah got its name was a best-known person in the Khorezm history. He ruled from 1603 to 1621. During this period he achieved considerable successes ruling the state. It was his order by which Khiva became the capital of the Khorezm State. Under him, Khiva became one of the most beautiful cities of Central Asia rival to Bukhara and Samarkand in its beauty. He arranged several kinds of work connected with the development of the city. He ordered to build several madrasahs, mosques and civil facilities, a small part of which survived till our days.

In 1616 in honor of this important event Arab-Muhammad ordered to build a madrasah for the city’s residents. Initially in the place of the present building there was another small madrasah built by a well-known female from Khiva. Arab-Muhammad bought out this building together with adjacent lands from her.

The madrasah represented a one-storey brick building of rectangular shape. The entrance portal had a traditional inscription from the Koran carved on it. Small minarets were located in the corners of the building. There are khudjrs for students to live in as well as a mosque to pray in the madrasah. Study rooms are situated next to the mosque.

The madrasah was re-built and renovated several times. In 1838 due to the building decay, the Khorezm ruler Allakulikhan ordered to re-build the madrasah to the standards common to late Khorezm architecture.
A second level was added to it. The number of khudjr and class rooms increased. The portal of the building was altered in part. It is this very state of the madrasah which remains till our days. Nowadays the madrasah is one of the favorite places visited by tourists from all over the world.