Urgench (Urganch), the capital of Khorezm province, is a standard-issue Soviet grid of broad streets and empty squares, 450km northwest of Bukhara across the desolation of the Kyzylkum desert. When the Amu-Darya changed course in the 16th century, the people of Konye-Urgench (then called Gurganj), 150km downriver in present-day Turkmenistan, were left without water and started a new town here.
Today travellers use Urgench mainly as a transport hub for Khiva, 35km southwest. It’s also the jumping-off point for the ‘Golden Ring’ of ancient fortresses in southern Karakalpakstan. It's not the kind of place you're likely to want to hang around in, but it can be useful as a stop over.