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Urumqi Introduction


Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, is located in the hinterland of the Eurasia Continent. It is the farthest city from the ocean in the world. It is the west fortress of the New Eurasian Continental Bridge in China, and is the pivot for Xinjiang to communicate with the inner land. The city has also opened many ports for China to link with Central Asia and other bordering countries. It covers an area of about 12,000 sq km. (3 million acres), with a relatively thin population of more than 2 million. The city has a middle temperate semi-arid continental climate, and distinctive hot and cold seasons. The temperatures vary much from day to night, so warm clothes are demanded even in the hot days when traveling. Autumn, when it is cool and which is also the season of harvest of many local products, is the best time to visit here.

Heavenly Lake, Urumqi

The vast land of Urumqi is productive in resources. It lies in the center of a rich coalfield and is surrounded by four huge oil fields on all sides, giving it the names of 'City in the Coalfield' and 'Coal Ship in the Oil Sea'. It also has abundant mineral resources, as well as light energy, wind energy and heat energy. Nourished by the glaciers and permanent snows on the mountains, the city is also not lacking of water resources and is teeming with wild animals and plants like snow leopards, horses, deer and snow lotuses among others.

Urumqi also vaunts much in its long history. The city initially began to be built more than 1,300 years ago. Historically it was the pasture and habitat of many nomadic tribes. And it was a strategic pass in the old Silk Road. Since the extensive reconstruction during the reign of Emperor Qianlong (reigned 1735 - 1795) in the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911), the city began to take on a new look during its building boom.

Urumqi also boasts its majestic landscapes and peculiar human and cultural sights. The Red Hill located in the center of the city is considered as the symbol of Urumqi, and the best point for a panoramic view. When feeling hot and dry traveling in the city, the enticing Heavenly Lake is a perfect spot to embrace the charming nature and feel at ease. In the picturesque Southern Pastures, it is also possible to approach some versatile local minorities when relaxing. There are also some well-trodden temples with unique architecture like the Southern Mosque and Tartar Mosque for visitors to enjoy a moment of quietness. And Xinjiang Regional Museum is a treasure trove of the local customs of the ethnic groups, as well as the historical and cultural relics of the city. Some other revolutionary memorials in the city are also worth seeing.

 Southern Mosque

The Southern Mosque got its name because of its location, standing near the original south gate of Urumqi. The mosque was originally built during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and rebuilt in 1919. As one of the most important mosques of Xinjiang Islam, many Moslems and visitors come to visit it every year. The main body of the mosque is a four-storey tower-like building. There are shops, a prayer hall, a seminary and living area for Moslems. The walls are decorated with carvings of orchids, plums, bamboo and lotuses and more than 700 people can pray here at any one time. 

Best Time to Visit: June to October
Bus Route: 1, 104, 101

 Tartar Mosque

Located at the southern end of Jiefang Lu with an area of 3,000 sqm, Tartar Mosque, also known as Yanghang Mosque, was built in 1897 with private donations from the Tartar Community. Decorated with crescent and wood-and-brick geometric carvings, the dome takes the shape of an octagonal pyramid, a traditional Tatar architecture style. This mosque is the main center of worship for Muslims in Urumqi, containing a chapel which can hold over 1000 people at a time.

This mosque now is open to outside. Tourists, including women, can visit it by getting advance permission.

Ethnicities abound in the city. As many as 49 nationalities like Han, Hui, Mongol, Kazak and Uygur congregate here, these various ethnic groups and their colorful local customs form a brilliant line of scenery in the city. Perhaps the most enjoyable experience is to appreciate their singing and dancing performances in fancy costumes. Other special activities like horse racing, wrestling, rope walking are also their favorites and very exciting. The local food here is also very unique and fruitful. Roast beef, biscuits and buns, as well as food catching by hand and tea with milk are all very delicious and worth trying. In addition, some fresh melons and fruits like Hami Melon and grapes are especially alluring for tourists. Erdaoqiao Bazaar is the most concentrated area of various ethnic customs and products.
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