Urgench

Urgench is a city (1999 pop. 139,100) in southern Uzbekistan. It is the capital of the Khorezm Province, on the Amu Darya River and the Shavat canal. The city is situated 450 km west of Bukhara across the Kyzyl Kum Desert. The history of the city goes back to the second half of the 18th century. The city should not be confused with the city of Konya-Urgench (also known as "Old Urgench" or "Gurgench") in Turkmenistan. The city of Old Urgench was relocated to Urgench after the Amu Darya river changed course in the 16th century, leaving the old town high and dry.

New Urgench was a trade center of the Khanate of Khiva.Modern Urgench is a Soviet-style city, with a plethora of Soviet monuments and cotton motifs adorning everything possible, from street lights to apartment houses. Of note is a monument to the twenty Komsomol members killed by Tekke basmachi on the banks of the Syr Darya in 1922, and a large statue to Muhammed al-Khwarizmi, the 9th century local mathematician who revolutionised algebra, outside the Hotel Urgench. A flat, drab place, it is the main gateway for tourists to Khiva 35 kilometres to the southeast, whose old city, known as Itchan Kala, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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