Great Mosque of Xi'an

See an intriguing blend of Islamic customs with traditional Chinese architecture in this religious complex of gardens and historic buildings.

The Great Mosque of Xi’an is among the oldest and most significant Islamic spiritual homes in China. Founded during the Tang dynasty, it consists of several structures and picturesque grounds in an area of 3 acres (1.2 hectares). Relish the serene ambiance, as you traverse the four landscaped gardens.

Historical records inscribed on a tablet inside the mosque suggest the site was constructed in A.D. 742, as Islam was introduced to northwestern China. The mosque stands out for its mixed design of Islamic and Chinese features. Note how a Chinese pavilion stands in place of the minarets and domes of a traditional mosque. Capture photos of the pagodas that look more like Buddhist temples than Islamic places of worship.

Amble along the landscaped gardens full of floral displays, trees and water features. Gaze up at the grand wooden arch in the first courtyard. It dates back to the 17th century and has glaze-covered tiles. Inspect old furniture from the Ming and Qing dynasties. Make your way to the second courtyard to see the stone arch and the artworks by acclaimed calligraphers Mi Fu and Dong Qichang. Many of the inscriptions are in Arabic. A large prayer hall fit for more than 1,000 worshippers occupies the fourth courtyard. Admire the colorful paintings that decorate its interior walls.

Attend one of the five prayer services that take place here everyday. The peaceful setting is a stark contrast from the busy streets outside.

Visit the site between morning and late afternoon. Only Muslims are permitted to enter the main prayer hall. During ceremonies non-Muslims are not permitted to enter the grounds and outside of ceremonies, they are required to pay a fee to enter.

The Great Mosque of Xi’an is in the Lianhu section of the city center . Nearby attractions include the Drum Tower, Xi’an Huancheng Park and Lianhu Park. Take a bus to one of the many nearby stops. Walk to the nearby Muslim Quarter to see how Islamic traditions remain in this city.


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