Xi’an Great Mosque: One of China’s Most Famous Mosques

The Great Mosque of Xian, one of the four largest mosques in China as well as the largest in Xi’an, is located in Huajue Alley on the northwest side of Drum Tower. It is said the mosque was firstly built in Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), and it has been rebuilt and expanded in later dynasties. The Great Mosque is a Chinese-styled ancient complex that perfectly combines Chinese classical architecture and Islamic style. It is rectangular from east to west and covers an area of more than 12,300 square meters (14,711 square yards).

Xian-Great Mosque
Great Mosque

Quick Facts about the Great Mosque of Xi’an

  • Type: historical site, mosque
  • Time Needed: 1-2 hours
  • Opening Hours: 8:00-21:00
  • Ticket: RMB 25 in the peak season (March-November); RMB 15 in low season (December-February the next year)
  • Highlights: the masterpieces of buildings combining Chinese and Islamic styles, fine carvings, the Koran carved on large wooden board
  • Best Seasons: All Seasons
  • Recommended for: history lovers, Islamic culture lovers, Muslims
  • Location: No.30, Huajue Alley, Lianhu District, Xi’an, Shaanxi Province

History of the Great Mosque

According to the record on a stone tablet in the Great Mosque, it was constructed when Li Longji, the emperor Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty was on the throne. However, this has been suspected to be wrong. From another point of view, the Great Mosque is believed to be built in the early years of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD). The mosque was rebuilt and repaired repeatedly in the later period. Anyway, the existing buildings in this mosque were those of the Ming and Qing (1644-1911 AD) dynasties.

Xian-Great Mosque
Great Mosque

What to See in the Great Mosque

Old Architectures in Combined Style

There are four enclosed courtyards in Xian Great Mosque. Looking at a distance, you may feel it is a Chinese complex. Only if you get close to it, you would find it is an Islamic mosque indeed. The traditional Chinese symmetrical layout with a central axis was adopted. These houses were built with flying cornices, and you can see the traditional stone archway and pavilions with tablets. On many wooden doors and brick walls in the Great Mosque, you can enjoy a great number of wood and brick carvings, using the carving skills in Islamic art style to engrave Chinese-style patterns, such as vases, peonies, lotus flowers, and chrysanthemums.

The Holy Main Worship Hall

The worship hall is the major as well as the most eye-catching building in the Great Mosque of Xian, with the peacock blue glazed tile roof. The worship hall is also a place of worship for nearby Muslims. The colored paintings on the caisson ceiling are very exquisite, and there are 30 wooden boards with a height of about 4 meters (13 feet), where the Koran was carved on. This Koran is definitely a treasure that you cannot see in other places. Regrettably, non-Muslims and women are not allowed to enter the worship hall, so most tourists can only look inward at the entrance of the hall.

Hidden in the downtown of Xi’an, the Great Mosque is a god-given site to enjoy the tranquility in beautiful courtyards. It allows you to escape from the chaos of daily life, to seek a feeling of peace in mind.

How to get to the Great Mosque?

Take the city bus 15, 32, 43, 45, 201, 215, 218, 221, 222, 251, 252, 286, 300, 604, 611, 612, 618, 622, or Tourist Bus Line 8/610 to Zhonglouxi (Bell Tower West) stop, where you can see the Drum Tower. Walk to the northwestern corner of Drum Tower, and then go northward along the road. Having the walking of around 400 meters (438 yards) within 10 minutes, you would reach the Great Mosque.

Xian Great Mosque Visiting Tips

  • Visitors, especially the females, should not expose their skin when visiting the Great M Long-sleeved clothes and long trousers are recommended.
  • When visiting the mosque, you need to respect the religious customs of Muslims. For example, don’t go to the Great Mosque with ham sausage, Chinese hamburger, or other pork  Don’t make loud noises and take photos when Muslims pray.
  • On every Friday, there is a great worship service in the mosque. At this time, there are more Muslims who come to worship, and it would be crowded.

Nearby Attractions

  • Muslim Quarter: The Great Mosque of Xian is just in the Muslim Quarter, with snack and food streets. After visiting the mosque, you can go around the neighborhood to taste mouthwatering local dishes.
  • Drum Tower & Bell Tower: As the landmarks of Xi’an, Bell Tower and Drum Tower are grand on a square black brick base. They are the must-see historical sites in the center of Xi’

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