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Great Mosque

the gate of The Great Mosque in XianThe Great Mosque of Xian is one of the oldest and best preserved as well as most renowned mosques in the country. It is northwest of the Drum Tower on 30 Huajue Lane. According to historical records engraved on a stone tablet inside, it was first built in 742 (reign of Emperor Xuanzong, 685-762) during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), and renovated in later periods especially during the reign of Emperor Hongwu of the Ming Dynasty.

The reason for building the Great Mosque was that Islam were introduced into Northwest China by Arab merchants and travelers from Persia and Afghanistan during the mid-7th century and some of them settled down in China and married women of Han Nationality, so to pray for their own God, they built this mosque. Their descendants became Muslim of today. The Muslim played an important role in the unifications of China during the Yuan and Ming Dynasties. Hence, other mosques were also built to honor them.

The Great Mosque has been well-known among the world not only for its centuries-old history but also for its striking features of Chinese pavilions, with painted beams and engraved ridge-poles mixed with traditional Muslim architecture. Occupying an area of over 12,000 square meters, the Great Mosque is divided into four courtyards, 250 meters long and 47 meters wide with a well-arranged layout. Landscaped with gardens, the further one strolls into its interior, the more serene one feels. 

Main Buildings in Great Mosque

The first courtyard of Great Mosque is entered via two modest side gates along the north and south precinct walls. In the first courtyard, there is a wooden arch. The arch, 9 meters high, with glaze-covered tiles, can be traced back to 17 century. the gate with a stele in the The Great Mosque in XianThree chambers stand by each side of the arch, in which now displays some furniture preserved from the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Three chambers stand by each side of the arch, in which now displays some furniture preserved from the Ming and Qing Dynasties.

In the center of the second courtyard of Great Mosque, a stone arch stands with two steles on both sides. On one stele is the script of a famous calligrapher named Mi Fu of the Song Dynasty; the other is from Dong Qichang, a calligrapher of the Ming Dynasty. Their calligraphy is considered as a great treasure in the art of handwriting because of its elegant yet powerful characters.

At the entrance to the third courtyard of Great Mosque is a hall containing many steles from ancient times. As visitors enter this courtyard, they will see the Xingxin Tower, a place where Muslims came to attend prayer services. A 'Phoenix' placed in the fourth courtyard, the principal pavilion of this great mosque complex, contains the Prayer Hall, the surrounding walls of which are covered with colored designs. This Hall can easily hold 1,000 people at a time and according to traditional custom, prayer services are held five times everyday respectively at dawn, noon, afternoon, dusk and night. It is the only one Mosque that opens to visitors in the country. But non-Muslim visitors are not allowed to enter to the main prayer hall.

 

Great Mosque Tour

The Great Mosque was added to the UNESCO Islamic Heritage List in 1985. With such a high fame, it is really worth visiting during the tour to Xian together with the Drum Tower.