Khiva is a small city (population 40,000) located in western part of Uzbekistan. Some archaeologists believe it was founded about the time of the birth of Christ, and was named after the ancient well of Kvivak, said to have been discovered by Shem, the Son of Noah. The town certainly existed by the 8th century, as a minor fort and trading post on a Silk Road branch to the Caspian Sea and the Volga River. In the early 16th century Khiva was made capital of the Timurid Empire, becoming a busy slave market and pivot of the khanate for the next three centuries until Russia wrested the region from Timurid grasp in the 19th century. Contemporary Khiva is a distinctly odd place. Its historic heart, unlike those of other Central Asian cities, is preserved in its entirety. Morning and evening are the best times to see Khiva. Most of the cityís mosques, minarets and other landmarks, renowned for their delicate majolica tiles and naturalistic paintings, are located in the historic Ichon-Qala part of the city. Must-sees include the exquisite 19th century Tosh-Khovli Palace, the 225-foot tall Islam-Khodzha Minaret, and Pahlavon Mahmudís mausoleum, with its proverb-embossed tiles, honoring the great Khivan philosopher and teacher.