The Great Mosque of Xi’an is the oldest and one of the most renowned mosques inChina. It was founded in 742 during the Tang Dynasty (618-907). However, much of the current Great Mosque of Xi’an was built during the Ming Dynasty and expanded during the Qing Dynasty.
The Great Mosque of Xi’an has been renovated at different times, especially during the reign of Emperor Hongwu of the Ming Dynasty. It is a famous tourist site in Xi’an and is still used by Chinese Muslims (mainly the Hui minority) as a place of worship. Unlike most mosques in the Middle East or Arab countries, the Great Mosque of Xi’an is entirely Chinese in its construction and architectural style, except for some decorations in Arabic. The mosque has neither domes nor minarets of traditional style.
Occupying an area of more than 12,000 square meters, the Grand Mosque is divided into four courtyards, is 250 meters long and 47 meters wide. Arranged as a garden, it provides a feeling of serenity as one progresses in the field. The first courtyard contains a wooden arch nine meters high covered with glazed tiles dating back to the 17th century. In the center of the second courtyard, a stone arch stands with two stelae on both sides. One of them is the writing of a famous calligrapher named Mi Fu of the Song Dynasty. The other is Dong Qichang, a calligrapher of the Ming Dynasty. His calligraphy is considered a great treasure because of their elegant and compelling characters.
At the entrance to the third courtyard is a hall that contains many steles from antiquity. When visitors enter this courtyard, they see Xingxin Tower, a place where Muslims come to follow religious services. A phoenix is placed in the fourth courtyard. The main pavilion of the mosque contains the prayer hall. The walls are covered with colorful drawings. This room can comfortably accommodate 1000 people and, according to traditional custom, prayer services are organized five times a day: at dawn, at noon, in the afternoon, at dusk, and night.