Just as Uzbekistan is the heart of Central Asia, the Fergana Valley is the heart of Uzbekistan. Over seven million people, about a third of the population, live in this fertile flood plain of the Syr Darya. The river sweeps down from the Pamirs into a vaiiey approximateiy 300 kilometres (190 miles) long and 170 kilometres (105 miles) wide, surrounded by spurs of the Tian Shan - the Chatkal range to the north, Ferghana to the east, and the Pamir-Alai to the south.
Fergana valley is a spacious cavity surrounded on three sides by Tien- Shan and Pamir-Altay mountain systems. Its length from the West to the East is 350 km and width is 150 km. Syrdarya - the second largest river of Cenral Asia - flows along the valley. On the South, parallel to Syrdarya, there is the Big Fergana Channel. Ancient Chinese sources claim that Fergana was a separate state. The area seems to have been settled in the Stone Age. In the Bronze Age this land was inhabited by the tribes of different way of life cattle- breeders and farmers. In, 104 BC the Chinese ambassador Chzhan-Czyan counted 70 big and small towns in this territory including Sokh, Uzgen, Kuva, and Akhsi. Some of them are prospering now: Khudjand, Margilan, Kokand, Andijan, Namangan, and Rishtan...
One route of the Great Silk Road passed through the valley. That's why since ancient times arts and crafts of Fergana were greatly influenced by Chinese, Indian and Persian cultures. Remains of structures testify to the construction of buddhistic temples and Nestorian churches. This route experienced free-trade on goods and services: the merchants enjoyed the caravan-sarais, warehouses, workshops for production of various goods and even the special stoned roads.
Numerous historical buildings in Kokand, Andijan and Namangan attract many people from all overthe world.
Andijan is the motherland of famous poet, author of epos "Baburname", and military leader; statesman conquered India and established the empire of the Great Mongols - Zahiriddin Babur.
The ancestor of Babur Shah-Djahan constructed in India one of the most beautiful palaces in the world Taj-Mahal.
Andijan is one of the ancient cities. 30 km farther from the modern city there is the town Ershi. It was the capital of ancient state Davan, which was famous with its fast horses. These horses were taken to Chinese Emperors as a precious gift. In the IX-X centuries Andijan was a part of Samanid's Empire. In 1902 the city was completely destroyed by the earthquake and reconstructed again. The remaining archeological building in Andijan is madrasah Djami. The most attractive place for tourists is squire (in the open air) "Hunarmandchilik", where you can see working craftsmen on engraving, embroidering and painting. Here you can buy their hand-made stuff. Andijan is famous for its holy places. The boulder "Teshik-Tash" in its grounds looks like the widely set legs of giant. Among the other holy places you can visit Imam-ota, Tuzlik Masar, Ok Gur, and spring Shirmanbulak.
The city prospered during Temur's dynasty. Over the centuries Andijan served as the eastern gates to the Fergana valley. Now Andijan is one of the biggest industrial centers of Uzbekistan. There is a car-factory UzDaewoo here. The car models Tico, Damas, Matiz, Nexia and Lacetti are popular among CIS motorists.
Kokand Khanate is one of the three states that existed in the territory of Central Asia before the revolution. In difference from Bukhara Emirate and Khiva Khanate that also were Russian protectorates until the Soviet period, Kokand Khanate was conquered and abolished by Russian troops and adjoined to the Russian Empire in 1876. At that period of time Kokand Khanate was ruled by the khans of Ming's dynasty (in other words Abdurahmanid's). Kokand was created later than the other cities. Nevertheless soon it flourished and became a perspective trade and religion center. Khudoyarkhan Palace is the most interesting building constructed at the end of the XIX century. It became the symbol of the whole valley.
Facade of the palace with four towers is inlayed with colored ceramic tiles. The wide ramp leads to the main entrance; the gates of the palace are the masterpiece of wood engraving. The domed room of darvozahana is decorated with big figured stucco.
Khudoyarkhan's throne-room is the most gorgeous place in the palace. It is decorated with all forms of traditional applied art; the ceiling is ornamented with 14 golden figured cavities khavzaks.
Khudoyarkhan's Palace is the witness of all important events happened in Kokand. In 1876 tsar's troops entered Kokand and occupied the palace. The khanate fell, and the palace was quartered by Russian garrison.
The throne room became the Orthodox Church; men and women schools were launched in the palace. After the October revolution, it was the administrative center of poor and farmers' union - "Koshchi". In 1924 the palace was the spot for the agricultural exhibition of Fergana region, and a year later, in 1925 it was rearranged into the museum. During the Second World War it served as a military hospital.
Margilan is one of the ancient cities of Fergana valley that keeps silkworm breeding secret. Up to the IX century it was the biggest stop on the Silk Road. According to national legends its history can be traced back to Alexander the Great period.
Margilan is the city of Silk. It is famous with its streamy, iridescent patterned khan-atlas and printed silk fabric. Via the Silk Road Margilan's silk was taken to Baghdad, Kashgar, Khurasan, Egypt and Greece. It has been many years since Margilan was the capital of silk.
The population of Margilan long since engaged in silk manufacturing and by this brought the celebrity to its town. Almost 3 centuries, from 1598 to 1876, Margilan was the part of Kokand Khanate. After the joining of Central Asia to the Russian Empire on the 8th of September 1875 Margilan became the chief town of the district and wholesale market of silk and cotton. Margilan suffered from foreign conquerors a lot. Arabs, Tataro-mongolians, and Iranians left many bloody trails in this area. There were internal wars during the Temurids, Sheybanids and other rulers' time.
Preserved historical monuments are reconstructed and constantly visited by the tourists from all over the world. The complex Pir-Siddyk was constructed in the middle of the XIIIV century. Its name derives from the legend of how the pigeon saved the life of a holy person. That's why people here honor pigeons.
Khodja-Magiz mausoleum was built at the beginning of the XIIIV century. It is the best memorial building of Margilan. Harmonious composition - madrasah Said-Ahmadkhodja was constructed at the end of the XIX century. In the yard of the madrasah there is an ornamented mosque.
Mosque Toron-bazar was also built at the end of the XIX century. Many tourists prefer visiting this place for having sprne rest under the old plane-trees and listening to the birds' piping.
Namangan plays a significant part in the Fergana valley. It is the birth place of poet Mashrab. Not far from Namangan you can see the ruins of the ancient city Aksikent.
Archeological dig show that the city had citadel and strong fortifications. Trade and craft were very developed in the city. From the X to XIII centuries Aksikent was the capital of Fergana. Later the city was destroyed by Mongolian conquers and in the XVII century by the powerful earthquake. In 1875 Namangan became a part of the Russian Empire. At that time according to the regular plans, a new town was constructed. The new town was separated from the old one by a fortress. The radial streets were fan- shapely diverged from this fortress. At the beginning of the XX century Namangan was the second biggest city and the cotton processing center for the Fergana valley. Many religious buildings were constructed at that time of which Khodja Amin mausoleum, madrasah Mullo-Kirgiz and others still remain.
Rishtan is situated 50 km farther from Fergana. Since the IX century AC Rishtani people have been famous for their pottery. Over 1100 years the masters impart their skills and knowledge of pottery work to their generation. The pottery in Rishtan is shaped from the local red clay and glaze, from natural mineral dyes and mountain plants' ashes. Big plates "lyagan", deep bowls "shokosa", water jars, containers for milk, ornamented with glaze "ishkor" of turquoise and ultramarine colors made Rishtani masters well-known in the world and serve as the expositions in many museums and private collections.
Kuva is one of the ancient cities of Fergana valley. The remains found in the settlement of ancient Kuva were traced back to the III century BC. During the excavations they found the buddhistic temple of the VI-VIII centuries AC. The first archeological digs prove that Kuva was one of the leading centers of craftsmanship. Perhaps the art of glass-making originated from Kuva. Kuva is also the memorial complex of the famous medieval scientist Al-Fergany, who was well-known in Europe under the name Alfraganus.