The palace is located in Dishan-Kale - the outer city of Khiva and is famous for its magnificence, beauty and charm. The palace differs from other palaces built by other khans in different periods. During the reign of Muhammad Rahim Khan I, the old city (now Ichan-Kala) was already crowded due to the large number of houses built there and it was impossible to build large palaces with gardens there. So, Muhammad Rahim Khan I ordered to build for his sons Mahmud-tyurya and Muhammad-tyurya country palaces "howli" (made of rammed clay blocks) to the west of the city (Ichan-Kala) walls.
In a quarter of a century (when the walls of Dishan-Kala have been already built), Seyid Muhammad Khan ascended to the throne of Khiva (1856) and ordered his vizier Hasanmurad-kushbegi to build a drawing-room (kurinishkhana) near these "howli" palaces. According to the Khiva historians Bayani and Agahi, the drawing-room (kurinishkhana) built on the eastern side of new buildings in the garden known as “Nurullabay” was very beautiful. Agahi made a chronogram for this place as follows: “Kurinishkhana u valo” (“the Great Drawing-Room”). According to calculation of these words numeric expression using Abjadiya (a system for designating numbers using Arabic letters and the associated ability to find the total numerical content of words written in Arabic letters), the date of the Hidjra (relocation of the Muslim community headed by the Prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Medina) is 1276 (1859). A while back, the kurinishkhana hosted open-air solemnity of reception. The son of Seyid Muhammad Khan, Muhammad Rahim Khan II Feruz (1864 – 1910) enthroned after his farther asked the rich Khiva merchant Nurullabay to sell him this garden. Nurullabay agreed subject to preserving the name of the garden as "Nurullabay's Garden" well known among the people. The Khan agreed to Nurullabay's condition and purchased the garden. Thus, the name "Nurullabay's Garden" remained in this area.
Muhammad Rahim Khan II built a great palace with a harem (harem-khas, the courtyard is part of the palace prohibited for unauthorized persons) in Nurullabay's Garden for his son Isfandiyar Khan II. This inner palace was built in 1896-1904 and is surrounded by a high wall. This palace included four parts (yards)more than a hundred rooms, dalanhana (a wide corridor), karaulhana (premises for guard), stables, rooms for servants and a harem (fifth yard). The main entrance to the palace passed through special gates from the South. The gate's inside included Khan's chancellery, divanhana (place for state council meetings), premises for personal guard. The premises for Isfandiyar-tyurya included tiled stoves, fireplaces brought from Russia disassembled.
Isfandiyar Khan II (1910 – 1918) enthroned after Feruz built his Nurullabay Palace in a new style, and thus completed the construction of buildings in this garden. The new palace was built for reception ceremonies for high-ranking guests. Islam Khoja, Chief Wazir, opposed the construction of reception hall by Isfandiyar Khan II due to delay in the construction of a telegraph post office and a hospital. There was little money in the state treasury. However, after Khan's mandatory order, he appointed his pupil, Rakhimbergen-Mahram as sakhibkar (chief of construction). The construction of reception hall was finished in 1912.
The scientific investigation "Khorazmda Tibbiyot" (Medicine in Khorezm) of A.A. Abdullayev, M. D., Professor, includes the following data about this construction: "...Islam Khoja again went to Moscow and visited the head of the city, N. I. Guchkov. The Head of Moscow introduced him to the Moscow architect A. M. Roop”. The architects headed by A.M. Roop visited Khiva and consulted about the construction of a hospital, telegraph and post office, as well as reception hall for ambassadors. Thereafter, they went back.
Soon, the project was prepared and construction began. This reception hall construction (1906-1912) provided manufacture of specially burned bricks. The clay for the bricks was brought from Avaz Dunak settlement located near the city. It was thoroughly burned in 4 khumbuzs (ovens for bricks burning). Babajan-Khumbuz, Matyaz-bala, Khasan-Pirsiyan, Kuryaz Babadzhan and others participated in bricks burning and laying. The roof of the palace was covered with thin iron sheets shaping the canopy (triangular). The palace included seven halls. Doors, windows and parquet floors were made by the Mennonite Germans who lived in Ak-Mechet settlement (Ak-Mechet settlement is 15 km east from Khiva in Yanigiaryk region). The interior of halls differ from each other.
Ganch carving patterns on the walls and ceiling of the palace were made by Ruzmet-arbab Masharipov, Usta Nurmet, Khudaibergen Khadzhi, Kuryaz Babadzhanov, etc. The master Vayisyaz Matkarimov headed the paining of ganch carving walls with oil paints. Russian artists made figures of flowers and angels on the ceiling of the building in the European style. The second hall of living room (reception) was designed for banquets in honor of ambassadors and dignitaries. Its sizes made up 8 x 14 meters 6 meters high. The fourth hall included Khan's reception. Here, he signed various contracts of a nationwide scale. This room called octagonal, round hall is 10 meters wide and seven meters high. During Khan's reign, every corner of this hall had one mirror of 1.5 x 3 meters. This room ceiling was made of wood, with a clean piece of exquisite geometric shapes and covered with a thin layer of gold plating.
Such Khiva masters as Babadjan Kalandar, Masharip Kalandar, Vayisyaz Matkarimov, etc. demonstrated his art. Wavy cornices installed under the ceiling were brought from Russia wrapped in special paper. In the middle of the sixth hall's ceiling, ganch masters applied figures in the form of Muslim crescent and sun. Here, the Russian masters used oil paints to make angels on the four sides of the ceiling (one angel on each side).
The ceiling of the seventh room of reception hall (mehmanhana) contains beautiful figures in the form of peacock feathers and precious stones of various colors. Ganch carving patterns on the walls are very elegant and painted in bronze. Seven faience (porcelain) stoves were brought from Russia for palace heating in winter. These stoves were made of individual tiles. They were put together by Russian masters. Saxaul was used for stoves heating. Khanate of Khiva introduced another innovation - electric chandeliers for the hotel were delivered to Khiva. Since they were large and heavy, special wooden devices were made on the roof of the palace. Chandeliers were hung from these pyramidal devices. A small sixteen horsepower engine was delivered to Khiva to light electrical bulbs on chandeliers.
The first electrical bulb in Khiva was lighted by Musa Sabanovich Yangiurazov called from Syzran city, which is located on the banks of the Volga River. The construction of Khan's reception hall spent 70 thousand tillya (126 thousand gold rubles expressed in that time currency) from Khan's Treasury. During the Soviet period, the reception hall was used as the government house, in subsequent periods - the house of education and Museum. Currently, after the restoration, the palace has acquired its original appearance.
Nobody will stay indifferent after visiting Nurullabay historical complex. We recommend this place for visiting.