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Home Xinjiang Travel Guide Xinjiang Attractions Emin Minaret (Sugong Pagoda) in Turpan: An Architectural Splendor

Emin Minaret (Sugong Pagoda) in Turpan: An Architectural Splendor

Emin Minaret, aka Sugong Pagoda, is located about 2 kilometers east of Turpan City in Munar Village. It is the largest existing ancient tower in Xinjiang which is in a distinctive Islamic architectural style. The construction of this pagoda can be dated back to 1778 in the Qing Dynasty, boasting a history of over 230 years.

Standing 37 meters high, Emin Minaret is a cone-shaped 7-story building with a thicker base and a slender top and is characterized by yellow and gray hues. It is now an iconic architecture in Xinjiang, symbolizing the rich history and culture of this region.

Fast Facts of Emin Minaret

  • Location: The Emin Minaret is located in Turpan, Xinjiang, China.
  • Height: about 37 meters
  • Opening hours: 8:00-21:00 (Apr. 21 – Oct. 20); 10:00 am to 18:30 ()
  • Ticket price: CNY 45
  • Time Needed: 2-3 hours
  • Highlights: Ancient Islamic structure, exploring the adjacent mosque.
  • Suited to: People who are interested in history, culture, architecture, and Islamic heritage.

History of Emin Minaret

In the 43rd year of the Qianlong period (1778) during the Qing Dynasty, the second Turpan Prefecture King, Sulaiman ordered the construction of Emin Minaret to honor Emin Khoja, the first Turpan Prefecture King who was also a Counselor to Emperor Qianlong. Designed by the renowned Uighur architect Ibrahim, Emin Minaret is an artistic gem and one of the earliest Islamic structures in Xinjiang, boasting exquisite brick carvings and colorful paintings. In 1988, it has been designated as a key cultural relic in China.

In 1916, Turpan Basin once suffered a magnitude 6 earthquake, causing the collapse of the original overhanging top of the minaret. After the earthquake, a new arched dome was skillfully restored onto it. In 1961, the minaret remained unscathed when the area undergo a forceful level 12 windstorm.

Xinjiang Emin Minaret
Emin Minaret

Architecture Features of Emin Minaret

External Features

Emin Minaret is in a cone shape tapering from bottom to top, showing an imposing and slender appearance.  Since Turpan is a region scarce in timber, the pagoda is primarily built with gray and yellow bricks, and is decorated with fourteen different geometric patterns. Visitors can observe that there are fourteen different geometric patterns of flat, slanted, recessed, or protruding being carved on the building surface.

To add stability, the designers capped its top with a dome and adorned it with cast-iron ornaments. The lattice design of the windows is also a highlight of the pagoda, which not only ensures adequate lighting and ventilation inside but also contributes to its solemn aura.

 Interior Architectural Style and Features

Inside the pagoda, there is a unique spiral staircase of 72 steps winding to the top. The staircase is not only a climbing structure but also demonstrates the rotation and flow of space in the pagoda while ascending gracefully. In the center of the pagoda is a pillar that is ingeniously connected to the outer wall by the spiral staircase.

Still, the interior is decorated with various exquisite brick carvings and paintings that mainly revolve around flora and geometric patterns. These patterns are emblematic of the Islamic culture and demonstrate the extraordinary skills of the craftsmen.

Mosque Adjacent to the Emin Minaret

There is a mosque capable of a thousand people next to the Emin Minaret. Featuring a compact and rational layout and simple composition, the mosque is comprised of the main gate, entrance hall, prayer hall, and several preaching chambers. To the east of the main gate is a “Bangke Tower” (also known as a calling tower) which allows a panoramic view of the surrounding pastoral scenery.

Best Time to Visit

The optimal time to visit the Emin Minaret is from May to October when the weather is mild and conducive to outdoor activities, and the local fruits are in season.

However, visitors should be aware that the area can experience extreme weather conditions, including high temperatures, so it is important to bring appropriate clothing and sunscreen.

Attractions nearby Emin Minaret

There are several attractions near the Emin Minaret that are worth exploring on your travel to Xinjiang:

  • Gaochang Ruins is an ancient city that dates back to the 1st century BC. It is located about 45 kilometers (28 miles) from the Emin Minaret and offers visitors a glimpse into the history and culture of the Silk Road era.
  • Flaming Mountains is a stunning range of red sandstone mountains that is located about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from the Emin Minaret.
  • Tuyoq Valley: a time-honored village rich in Uyghur traditions and folk customs, about 20 kilometers from the minaret.
  • Karez Well: a special Irrigation System distributed in Turpan area.
  • Jiaohe Ruins: one of the most important towns along the ancient Silk Road, also the largest, oldest and best-preserved earth construction in the world.

How to Get to

By Air:

Turpan Jiaohe Airport is the nearest airport to Turpan city center. You can fly to the airport first, then take a taxi or book a private car to the Emin Minaret.

By Train:

There are several railway lines converging at Turpan Railway Station, making it convenient to get Turpan by train. From the train station, you can take a local bus or taxi to get to the Emin Minaret.

Local Public Transport:

Thanks to the well-developed bus network in Turpan City, visitors can reach the minaret by Bus No. 1, 6, and 102.

Recommended Xinjiang Tours including Emin Minaret

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