Khiva is one of the most ancient cities of Central Asia, founded in the V century BC. On the origin of the city and its name there is a lot of folk legends. One of the legends claims that the city was founded by the son of biblical Noah – Shem. Tradition says that after the Flood, Shem, who roamed the desert, lay down to rest, and dreamed of 300 blazing bright fire torches.
Seeing this message as an omen Shem built the city in the shape of a ship, just as the torches were placed in a prophetic dream. After that Shem dug a well “Kheivak”, hence the name of the city – Khiva.
There is another legend about the origin of the history of the city. For centuries, the Great Silk Road passed through Central Asia, linking East and West. Merchants have stayed at this place to rest from the long journey and gain strength for its continuation. Tasting delicious clear water from a source, merchants exclaimed with delight, “Hey wah!” – “Oh, how beautiful!”.
Local residents named the well like this – Kheivak. Later, the village itself, built around the well in the midst of vast deserts, was called Khiva. Well Kheivak is carefully preserved by old-timers to this day in a small cosy courtyard at the northwestern wall of Ichan-Qala. During the renovation of the well the remains of the dome structure had been found, as well as traces of the original ancient masonry.