Fergana is a small beautiful city in the southeast of the country, the largest in the valley of the same name. It is distinguished by the colonial buildings of the times of the Russian Empire with a clear layout and a pronounced center. Ferghana is not so old, and it does not have such beautiful medieval buildings as, for example, in Kokand. But it will be an excellent starting point for exploring the valley, the most fertile and beautiful in Uzbekistan.
Note: according to allcitypopulation, the population of Uzbekistan is 34.92 million (2021).
During the reign of kings, many official institutions were built in Fergana. All these colonial buildings date from the end of the 19th century and represent the most interesting architectural heritage of the city.
How to get to Fergana
Fergana has an airport that receives flights from Tashkent, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Samara, Volgograd and a number of other Uzbek and Russian cities. You can also cheaply get to Fergana by private car from Tashkent in 3-5 hours, depending on the situation at the pass (arrange at the city station with one of the drivers who carry groups of several people to neighboring cities).
Fergana is a relatively young city: it was founded only in 1876. In 1924, the former New Margilan and Skobelev (named after the main ideological inspirer of its creation, General M. D. Skobelev) received its current name. Accordingly, the history of the city can be divided into three more or less comparable periods: before the Soviet regime, during and after it. The same tripartiteness is reflected in urban architecture. However, Ferghana developed slowly, being located far from the main railway line; only after the end of the Great Patriotic War did some movement begin here, which was facilitated by the construction of several new factories.
In 1989-1990. a serious conflict broke out in the city between the Kyrgyz and Uzbek population, in which many people died. Russian-speaking residents began to leave Fergana, and the industry began to decline sharply. And today, compared with previous years, Ferghana is in a state of decline. True, the government has already adopted a project for the global modernization of the city.
Alas, Fergana cannot be called a safe city. Despite the harsh laws of the country and gloomy prisons, the crime rate here is constantly increasing. These are both quite “ordinary” thefts and serious acts of religious extremism.
The Ferghana Bazaar is worth a visit just like any oriental market. It is not too crowded and is quite clean. And here a huge selection of all kinds of cakes, nuts, dried fruits and sweets is offered, along with lamb, fish and utensils for cooking all this.
The population of Ferghana is Muslim, and the daily routine here is usually adjusted to the time of prayer. This implies an early dawn rise around 5 am. But in the evening it becomes empty on the streets: especially since the city lighting system leaves much to be desired, and it is also dark there.
3 things to do in Fergana:
- Visit the recreation park and ride the Ferris wheel.
- Drive around the Ferghana Valley with visits to all kinds of cities and villages.
- Eat up to satiety with ripe and juicy fruits, which the region is so rich in.
Cuisine of Fergana
Residents of Ferghana, as well as other cities of Uzbekistan, respect meat very much. Therefore, most of the pies in the bazaars and shops are stuffed with meat. Other obligatory Uzbek dishes (also meat) are pilaf, samsa, chebureks, manti, basma (beef stew). Finally, the main pride of Ferghana can be considered a variety of fruits, which are grown in abundance in the valley. With dairy products, the situation in the city is unimportant, although it is worth trying the specific salty cheese-curd balls (krut). If you plan to buy meat at the market, you will find that there are no refrigerators, so it makes sense to arrive early before the heat of the day sets in.
Entertainment and attractions of Fergana
In terms of planning, Ferghana is like a wheel: the fortress is the axis, from which the streets diverge with spokes. During the reign of the tsar, many official institutions were built in Ferghana: military headquarters, governor’s residence, post office and city treasury, officers’ assembly, gymnasiums and schools. Then came the city garden, theater, Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. All these colonial buildings date from the end of the 19th century and represent the most interesting architectural heritage of the city. Mostly all these buildings are two-story and retain the general style typical of Turkestan of those years.
Military assembly building
The building of the military assembly was built in 1878-1879. designed by Sinclair. This is one of the oldest city buildings. Later, several extensions were added to it, which slightly violated the symmetry of the original structure. The building is distinguished by a semicircular rotunda, and behind it is a city park.
Military governor’s building
Another notable building is the building of the military governor, where today the regional theater is open. Its construction began in 1879, but was completed only a decade later. This is a beautiful two-story building with two main entrances, the appearance of which has remained exactly the same as immediately after the completion of construction. In particular, the facade, richly decorated with eclectic elements, with a white lancet arcade and windows in harmony with it, has been preserved.
Cathedral of Alexander Nevsky
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral began to be built in 1890, and it was made in the then popular pseudo-Byzantine style with lancet narrow windows, round and low domes, stocky double semi-columns. Near the cathedral, on the church square, there is a green square, in which in 1908 a monument to Skobelev was erected.
The building of the male gymnasium
The building of the men’s gymnasium to the west of the church square is as well preserved as the original metal lattice of its courtyard. This imposing and powerful building is considered one of the most interesting in Fergana. The building of the only old cinema that has survived in the city is also noteworthy. Initially, it stood between the trading houses of Gubernatorskaya Street and stood out from them with a bizarre facade with pointed corner turrets and unusual decoration of doorways.
The Ferghana Regional Museum of Local Lore is one of the oldest in the country. The decision to create it was taken after the exhibition of industrial and agricultural achievements in 1894. The museum opened its doors in 1899, with more than 2200 exhibits. Later, his collection was replenished with the help of the Russian Geographical and Russian Archaeological Societies, as well as other public organizations. Today, the museum stores more than 80 thousand exhibits: archaeological information, decorative and applied items, and collections of jewelry, costume details, and ceramics. One of the richest expositions is devoted to the archaeological finds of the Fergana Valley, it has more than 10 thousand items. These are prehistoric tools, household items and a rich archive of documents.
Vicinity of Fergana
The Ferghana Valley is called the pearl of the country and its flowering garden. That part of the valley that belongs to Uzbekistan is located in the east of the state, between the Tien Shan mountains and the Pamir-Altai. The population here is the highest in the country, so a trip through the valley by car turns into a trip through many villages, towns, villages, gardens. Several ancient cities are worth visiting here: Margilan, Kokand, Andijan.
The city of Rishtan is located about 50 km west of Ferghana and is the best place to buy ceramic souvenirs. The prices in the local pottery workshop are not at all high by Russian standards, and the goods are for every taste.
The Kirkidon reservoir is located about 30 km from the city. Water is collected there from mountain rivers, and therefore it is quite cold – the swimming season opens in June-July. But even without swimming, this is a quiet and beautiful place with an abundance of greenery, where many birds live, including turtledoves, storks and vociferous Afghan starlings.