Great Mosque of Xi’an
Tucked away in one of the narrow alleys of Muslim Quarter, northwest of the Drum Tower, Great Mosque of Xi’an (大清真寺) can be quite hard to find. But, once you find it, this precious gem of Islam in China will amaze you.
This mosque was built in 742 during the Tang Dynasty, and it appeared as a result of the frequent visits and trade of Arab merchants and travelers from Persia and Afghanistan, who introduced Islam to Northwest China. Some of them even remained in China and married women of Han Nationality, giving Muslim descendants, who played an important role in the unifications of China during the Yuan and Ming Dynasties. When you first see this mosque, it will definitely remind you of a tower, since its architectural style is the typical mix of traditional Muslim and Chinese styles. It occupies an area of over 12,000 square meters, and is 250 meters long and 47 meters, being divided into four courtyards. It is surrounded with greenery and beautiful gardens, which offer the feeling of tranquility and satisfaction. There are benches provided in the garden, and it is one of the least crowded places in the area, so you may just sit and enjoy the scenery. It is the only mosque in the country which is in this way open to visitors, though non-Muslims, cannot enter the main prayer hall. In 1985, the Great Mosque was marked by the UNESCO as important Islamic monument.