The sensuous opulence of the dazzling summer mosque is almost overwhelming with its huge, exquisitely tiled aywan and amazingly intricate and colourful ceiling, marred only by several garish new columns. Allah Kuli Khan had the mosque built in the 1830's for his own personal use but relinquished religious sensibilities in favour of architectural practicality. The aywan faces north in order to catch the slightest summer breeze so consequently the mihrab is skewed and faces due south rather than south- west towards Mecca as prescribed by the prophet Mohammed. The mosque is dedicated to Abu Bakr Omar Osmon Ali, one of the Islamic leaders who succeeded Mohammed, and his name can be seen written above the mihrab. The architects, Abdullah and Ibadullah, have also ensured that their names feature amongst the ornamental, tiled scripting.
The winter mosque was also built with practical considerations in mind to keep out the worst ravages of the icy Khivan winter. However in the 1830's glass was still unknown in Khiva and the mosque was undoubtably chilly. Today it houses a museum of archaeology which is grudgingly unlocked for persistent visitors who nag the museum staff. (NB An interest in buying hand knitted socks often smooths the way!) Inside are various pieces of pottery which have been unearthed from the Ark itself. The actual excavations can be seen near the main entrance to the Ark. There are also numerous photos of the 2500 year Jubilee celebrations and a picture of the Khan's silver throne which is on display in St Petersburg.