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Great Mosque

Great Mosque, Xian, Shaanxi Province

Nearby the Drum Tower, in the Muslim residential area, there stands a famous Islamic mosque in China - Xian Great Mosque.

Inscriptions from the stone tablets indicate that the Great Mosque, located at Huajue Lane, five minutes walk from the Drum Tower in the center of Xian city was originally set up in 742 AD during the Tang Dynasty. After restorations in the Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties, the present complex proudly ranks among the largest mosques in China. Unlike Arabic mosques which have splendid domes, minarets reaching into the clouds, and colorful engraved sketches with dazzling patterns, the mosque is built in a Chinese traditional style with the grounds taken up by platforms, pavilions and halls.

 A Visit to the Great Mosque

The mosque occupies a rectangle 250 meters by 47 meters (820 feet by 155 feet), divided into four courtyards.

The first courtyard has an elaborate wooden arch 9 meters (29.5 feet) high dating from the 17th century standing opposite a huge screen wall decorated with brick carvings. Upturned eaves, layers of brackets and glazed roof tiles made it magnificent. On both sides of the arch is old furniture of the Ming and Qing dynasties on display.

Xian-Great Mosque

Most visitors enter the second courtyard through a stone arch - three connected memorial gateways with a title inscribed in Chinese as "The Court of The Heaven". On both sides are passages for visitors. It was built in the Ming Dynasty. Behind it are two freestanding steles. One bears the calligraphy of a famous Song master, Mi Fu (1051 A.D. - 1107 A.D.), the other that of Dong Qicheng of the Ming.

In the Imperial Hall in the third courtyard is the 'Moon Tablet' with inscription in Arabic. The calendric records on it written by a late imam are of high value of the historical research on Islamism in Shaanxi province.

In the middle of the courtyard is the 'Introspection Minaret', an octagonal pagoda with a triple roof of turquoise tiles. On the southern side is the Official Reception Hall, in which the scripture copy of 'The Koran' of the Ming Dynasty is well preserved. To the east of the hall is a room for Moslems to bathe before they pray.

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