A Brief Guide to Xian Great Mosque and the Surrounding Muslim Quarter

Travel to China

The Muslim Quarter surrounds the Xian Great Mosque and is undoubtedly one of the significant and vibrant areas to be found in the city. Within this area, travelers will find that most of the inhabitants have lived in this area for all of their lives. In most cases members of most of the families will live and see out their days here without ever having ventured out to any other parts of Xian at all.

The Muslim Quarter has a very important and colorful history. It is estimated that Muslims started settling in this area around 732 A. D, which was when the Xian Great Mosque was being built. Imperial Records confirm the existence of this distinct area from this time in the city's history. The quarter began to grow in population after Xian established trade links with other Central Asian tribes, which allowed travelers and traders to visit the city, including the Muslim quarter, by traveling down what is known as the Silk Road.

As time passed, The Xian Great Mosque became more established with more and more people opting to remain in this part of the city. Many foreigners who held the same beliefs and traditions as the Muslims who already occupied the quarter felt that they had something in common and remained in the quarter. Indeed, it is assumed that many of the people who live in this part of Xian today are descended from peoples who have Middle Eastern origins, most likely traders who traveled down from the Silk Road.

Visitors to the city will find The Xian Great Mosque is located in the heart of the city, just behind the Drum Tower. It is easy to tell when you have reached the area as the clothing, smells and language are different to the other areas that can be visited in Xian. Here visitors will find a range of shops, markets, stalls and restaurants that are unique to the quarter.

When on a trip to the quarter it is most likely that you will want to see one of the grandest and oldest Muslim buildings to be found in China, The Xian Great Mosque. Originally started in around 732 A. D. Most of the buildings that can be seen nowadays were constructed during the 13th century. This mosque is unlike any other due to the fact that its architecture is mainly of a Chinese style.

Visitors will note that the buildings can be identified as a Muslim building as there are parts that are decorated with Arabic and Islamic influence. As well as the main building there are several beautiful courtyards and an array of smaller buildings. Some parts of The Xian Great Mosque are not accessible to visitors as they are still used by the inhabitants to this day.

This area surrounding the Xian Great Mosque looks, sounds and feels much as it did over 1,200 years ago when it was first settled by Chinese Muslims (known locally as Hui). Everyone in the community is very close and residents are generally weary of strangers, choosing to employ and live life to the full with those from within their own community. Indeed, it is not uncommon for several generations of the same family (whose ancestors also resided in the quarter) to still remain there, carrying on the family traditions and practices.

In fact, the everyday life of the residents of the quarter is almost identical to that of their ancestors all those years ago. Markets will be swept and cleaned, food will be prepared for the most part of the day and the older generations will relax with a pot of tea and their friends to chatter. This scene is very unique and is exactly as visitors would have found it had they visited the 40 generations previous to today's one.

The Muslim Quarter is a favorite area of many visitors whilst on a trip to the city of Xian. Most people venture into the quarter to taste the delicious food, marvel at The Xian Great Mosque and haggle with the stall holders to get a bargain. The shopping, food and faces of the quarter is one of the most special experiences you will have in your life.


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