Tree-lined avenues and pastel-plastered tsarist buildings give Fergana the feel of a mini-Tashkent. Throw in the best services and accommodation in the region, plus a central location, and you have the most obvious base from which to explore the rest of the valley.
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. It’s a nice enough place to hang out, and somewhat cosmopolitan with its relatively high proportion of Russian and Korean inhabitants.