The Pahlavan Darvaza is the eastern gate of Khiva's Ichan-Kala (inner fortress) and is one of the four gates that lead out to the outer city, or Dishan-Kala. Its name translates to 'The Wrestler's Gate' and was probably coined with reference to Khiva's patron saint and occupant of the neighboring shrine, Pahlavan Mahmud. The gate developed in the mid-nineteenth century as an important node along the city's primary east-west street starting from the western gate known as Ata Darvaza (Father's Gate) and leading to the Amu-Darya River.
The eastward shift of royal residence from the ancient Kunya Ark to the Tash Hauli Palace in the 1830s spurred the construction of an administrative and commercial cluster of buildings around the gate. Built as a simple fortified gate with projecting turrets, the Pahlavan Darvaza was modified through the centuries to serve as a prison and a market arcade. Later, it became part of an institutional complex comprising two madrasas, a mosque, a bathhouse and a caravanserai.
A passageway covered by six brick cupolas was added between 1804 and 1806 to accommodate the increasing trade activity around the gate. The passageway is linked to the adjacent Allah Kuli Khan market (tim) and caravanserai. It is lined with deep, recessed alcoves and rooms and protected with heavy wooden doors at either end much in the manner of the domed crossroad markets (taqs) of Bukhara.
Subsidiary half domes descend in terrace-like manner from the gate complex to visually merge with the domes of the Anush Khan Baths adjoining the gate. Its undecorated, fired brick interiors are lit from oculi of the domes, augmented by lantern light. The gate was restored and the portal on its eastern façade was partially reconstructed in 1937 by a Russian archaeological team headed by B.N. Zasipkin. Extensive renovations were undertaken from 1980 to 1991, culminating with UNESCO's declaration of Ichan-Kala as a World Heritage Site. Today, the historic slave and spice trade around the gate has given way to a bustling open-air grocery market that is set up outside its doors.
Azizkhodjaayev, Alisher. Khiva: The City of a Thousand Domes, 52. Tashkent: Chief Editorial Office of Publishing and Printing Concern, 1997.
Borodina, Iraida. Central Asia: Gems of 9th-19th century Architecture, 146, 189, 193. Moscow: Planeta Publishers, 1987.