Andijan is the Fergana Valley’s largest city and its spiritual mecca. It is probably the country’s purest Uzbek city, and the best place to observe Uzbeks in their element. Andijan is one of the oldest cities in the Fergana Valley. In some parts of the city archeologists have found items dating back to the 7th and 8th centuries. Historically, it was an important city on the Silk Road. The main attractions here are it’s bazaars (Eski market) and chaikhanas (tea house), brimming with color and life.
The ‘Andijan massacre’ occurred when Uzbek Interior Ministry (MVD) and National Security Service (SNB) troops fired into a crowd of protesters in Andijan in Uzbekistan on 13 May 2005. Estimates of those killed on 13 May range from 187, the official count of the government, to several hundred. A defector from the SNB alleged that 1,500 were killed.
Fergana is the valley’s least ancient and least Uzbek city. It began in 1877 as Novy Margelan (New Margilon), a colonial annexe to nearby Margilon. It became Fergana in the 1920s. The fertile Fergana Valley was an important conduit on the Silk Roads (more precisely the North Silk Road), which connected the ancient Chinese capital of Xi’an to the west as far as Turkey.