Namangan is one of the largest cities in Uzbekistan, located on the northern edge of the Fergana Valley. It is situated in a verdant oasis, within easy reach of the UNESCO-listed Western Tien Shan Mountains. Namangan has long been called “the city of flowers” due to the number of horticulturalists and vintners farming the surrounding land. It has been an important regional centre of crafts and trade since the 17th century, but grew significantly during World War II when many factories were relocated here and the city rapidly industrialised. Namangan is the third largest city in Uzbekistan, but despite its size, it is well planned and green. Its streets are decorated with giant plane trees and poplars, maples and acacias, ash trees, and weeping willows. Even in the city centre there are plenty of fruit trees – figs, pomegranates, and persimmons – and as you go further out you will find vineyards, cotton fields, and orchards where the famous Namangan apples grow.
Babur Park is in the centre of Namangan, and it takes its name from the Mughal Emperor who was born in nearby Akhsikent. In the 19th century, the park was the private garden of the Russian Governor, but today it is open to the public. Namangan is religiously conservative, and still has a number of mosques, madrassas, and mausoleums. The Mulla Kyrgyz Madrassa is a national monument with beautifully restored minarets and portal. The Khodja Amin Mosque and neighbouring mausoleum both date from the 1720s, and are open for prayer. Ota Valikhon Tur Mosque has large domes with mosaic tile stripes and is now a gallery of the Namangan Artists’ Union, displaying the work of local artists. The Muvlon Buva complex, built in 1806, is dedicated to a local poet and has some attractive decoration. When you visit Namangan, make sure you allow time for an excursion outside the city to Akhsikent (also known as Akhsikath). This site was already well-established by the 3rd century BC.
It was a wealthy trading post for Silk Road caravans, and is believed to be the birthplace of Emperor Babur.