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Medressas in 360°
Medressas were to some extent similar to European universities. Both students and their teachers were living together (like in some colleges) and specific scientific subjects were taught in each medressa (like in case of a faculty).
Students came to the medressas at the age of 17 or 18. They had to be fluent in Arabic and after passing an exam, they could begin their scientific and religious studies. After a 3 year long course they had to pass exams again and the final task before receiving a diploma was to discover something new in their selected scientific area. Khwarezmi, Persian and Arabic languages were also taught at medressas. Arabic was the favoured language of science and religion because of its simplicity, Persian was the language of fairy tales and poems and finally Khwarezmi was the language of documents. After graduation some of the students continued to stay in the medressa and became teachers.
1. Medressa Architecture
There are usually three colors decorating the medressas : blue, turquoise and white. Blue is the color of peace and stability; turquoise is the color of hope and belief and the white is the color of pure soul.
Khwarezmians were smart people and supplied their buildings with a centralized natural air conditioning system. Cooling northern winds were perceived through special windows and there was a pipe system installed behind these windows to spread the refreshing air to all rooms of the medressa. During winter time the pipes were stuck because it was already cold enough without the cooling air.
2. Amir Tora Medressa
Close to North Gate, this is a rarely-visited 19th century structure. Compared to other buildings in Khiva, it is interesting to note that this medressa has no upper floor except for its entrance.
3. Mohammed Rakhim Khan Medressa
Next to Kunya Ark, this 19th century medressa houses a tiny History Museum with an interesting collection of carvings and household tools.
4. Shergazi Khan Medressa
Shergazi (Shir Gazi) Khan Medressa lies just opposite the famous mausoleum of Pakhlavan Mahmud. It dates back to the 1720s and us such, it is the oldest medressa in Khiva. It was built by slaves of Shir Gazi Khan who were captured during his raid to Khorasan and Mashhad in 1718.
Although having promised to liberate the slaves when the construction is finished, the promise of freedom seemed thinner and thinner as years passed by. Finally the enraged slaves rebelled and killed him. Despite the death of the khan the medressa was eventually completed by 1726. Except the two-story entrance, the result was a large one storey-high building that lacked fine decoration.
5. Matpana Bay Medressa
Opposite the Juma Mosque lies the Matpana Bay Medressa built in 1905. Inside you'll find an interesting collection of various historic items. For example, there are models of ancient fortresses from the region of Khorezm and a small room dedicated to famous scientists including the Father of Algebra.
6. Qozi Kalon Medressa
Qozi Kalon Medressa was built in 1905 and now it houses the Museum of Music. There is a room furnished with musical instruments and in another one you can listen to authentic songs. The courtyard of the medressa is occupied by a large yurt.