Muslim Quarters, Xi'an
When you first enter into the Great Mosque complex, you'll come pass this amazing wooden memorial archway. It was built in the 17th century and features special up-turned eaves, many layers of brackets and glazed roof tiles.
This street stretches northwards from the Drum Tower into the city's main Muslim area which includes one of the city's best attractions - The Great Mosque. The street is paved with dark coloured stone with green trees providing shade during summer; the buildings on both sides of the street are modelled on the styles of both the Ming (1368-1644) and the Qing Dynasties (1644-1911). Some of the constructions are restaurants; while others are stores. It is said that foreign diplomatic envoys and merchants lived here, then they married and had children, so gradually the population increased. Today, most of the inhabitants of this area descendants of those immigrants.
The Muslim Quarters seems to be very popular because the main street entrance is right next to the drum and bell towers.
The main street offers restaurants, which become very busy and crowded at lunch and dinner time, dried fruit stalls and a covered market that sells everything from the cheap tacky souvenirs to the fake watches, bags and clothing.
Anne and I wandered around the Muslim Quarter, and to be honest, I was pretty bored with the place very quickly.
Vendor Street, in the Muslim Quarters, is really a small covered alley which leads you away from the main street. The market is approx 300 meters long offers you just about any fake, cheap and nasty souvenir that you can think of.
Fake Rolex watches, brand name handbags, polo shirts, pens, birds and fake antiques are all on offer her. Just remember to haggle for a good price as a starting price of 200 Yuan can often be purchased for 30 Yuan!
In the shadows of the drum tower you have access Vendor Street in the Muslim Quarters. A small alley leads you away from the main street and into a covered market known as Vendor Street. Approx 150 meters along this market you can turn left into a narrow passageway that has a small sign saying “the Great Mosque” (It is not that easy to find!)
The mosque certainly does not look or feel much like a traditional mosque; in fact it is very Chinese in all aspects of its design, including a pagoda.
When Anne and I visited there was a Muslim funeral taking place. The men were outside a room, sitting in the shade, while the women were around the body that was draped in a white sheet. Anne and I did not know where to look and we felt very uncomfortable being there so, out of respect, we decided to head to the other end of the grounds.
Entry was 20 Yuan each in July 2008.
Xi'an's Muslim quarter was my highlight - I loved it.
You wind through the narrow cobbled streets, looking into the small shops and tea rooms, then you come to the Muslim Market; named that because it's in the Muslim quarter. They sell lots of different tourist gifts, dried fruits, spices etc on the market. It makes a great day out.
We went to see the Mosque ,which did not look anything like a Middle Eastern style mosque, and then we walked around the little streets of the quarter, where you see people wearing Muslim style clothes, and selling Muslim street food. It was about the dirtiest place we went in China, and we did not dare eat anything there.But it was colourful, and we were especially interested in the fact that every tree seemed to have a little bird cage hanging on it,and the little song birds could be heard piping away.
El barrio musulmán es una de las herencias de la Ruta de la Seda . Aquí se establecieron los musulmanes que venían con las caravanas a comerciar y todavía siguen manteniendo sus tradiciones , comidas , religión...
Al anochecer todo parece revivir en esta zona , se llenan las calles de luz y de vida y es el sitio ideal para dar un paseo , ver los mercados y sus gentes y porqué no , tomarte un "alambre" u otro plato típico que están muy ricos
The Muslim Quarter is one heritages of the Silk Road. Here were established Muslims who came with the caravans to trade and they still are maintaining their traditions, food, religion ...
By nightfall everything seems to revive in this area, the streets are filled with light and life and is the ideal place to take a walk, watch the markets and its people, and why not, take a "wire" or other typical dish as they are very good
Just an afternoon is all you need -though you could spend a day- to walk the Muslim Quarter. A trio of blind people inch forward, singing along to music blaring from a speaker mounted onto a cart and powered by a car battery with an amp/mixer. They've passed the fried dough vendors, the spicy bean jelly steaming from giant woks, souvenir shops... The white goatees of old, Muslim men, ambling slightly faster, are somewhat of an unusual sight in China.
Restaurants sell food outside or you can sit down inside, where it's hot and noisy- a great Chinese experience. It's a great place to eat, from sesame candies and fried pastry desserts, to cold and spicy sesame noodles, spicy fried rice and skewers of roast meat.
It gets busy around dinner time, when the tourists go home and the locals come out to eat.
There's a lot of souvenir vendors... don't waste your money on the fake stuff. Fake (and really cruddy) Rolex, initial offer: 280 yuan. Counter offer: 5 yuan. Vendor offer: 100. Counter: 7 Vendor: 20. But she said it was really good quality! Don't fall for it! I can't stress this enough, HAGGLE! These prices have gone up immensely due to tourist paying the asking price!
Keep in mind that most, if not all, of these places don't sell beer -somewhat of an oddity considering the rest of China- since it is Muslim.
More images are in the travelogue, "Walking the Muslim Quarter".
You can access the Great Mosque from the vendor street that begins by the drum tower, via a small alley that comes off a street lined with small restaurants...
It doesn't feel like a mosque, built in a style more akin to Buddhist temples- very Chinese in the rooftops, doorways and "pagoda" style minaret... but it's a peaceful respite from the streets of glitz and overpriced souvenirs, a good place to sit a while and read about the Muslim Quarter or the mosque's history.
Entry is 15 yuan in the low season and 30 yuan in the high season (I believe, Feb. '08).
Wander through the busy streets of the Muslim Quarter and you come to the Great Mosque - a tranquil and peaceful place in the heart of the city. Built for the city's Muslim Hui community, it is built in a typical Chinese style.
Located in the heart of the Muslim Quarter is one of the architectural and cultural gems of the city, the Great Mosque. This place feels distinctly Middle Eastern but one look at the beautiful structure and you know you are still in China. The ancient mosque has an overwhelming Chinese influence in the art and architecture of the complex. Originally set up in 742 AD during the Tang dynasty, it has been enlarged during the Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties. Walking around the courtyards, pavilions, and gardens has a meditative effect on the visitor. Chinese gods consistent with a Buddhist temple are present here in calligraphy, sculpture, and paintings. Despite the images of dragons, phoenixes, and other mythical Chinese creatures there are colorful decorative patterns in the walls that is more consistent with the Islamic art and doctrines of no images in religious art. The Hui people have been able to practice their religion despite an atheistic government and their exquisite mosque seems to have weathered the storm of the Cultural Revolution and those awful Red Guards.
The Muslim Quarter is in the backstreets north and west of the mosque. It has been home to the cities Hue community for centuries and has retained much of its charm and original character.
It's amazing to walk through the streets of the Muslim Quarter as there are amazing markets, street vendors and restaurants. At night it is lit up and it was quite safe for me (female) to walk around.
The Great Mosque is one of the largest and fascinating mosques in China. It was established in 742 and rebuilt in the Qing dynasty and has since been heavily restored. It integrates Arabic features into a Chinese architectural style.
It is still very much an active place of worship and visitors are only allowed in the courtyards.
We did not have to cover up whilst were were in the mosque although we had brought clothes to cover our shoulders. This may change on different days but when we went we didn't have to.
Hours: 8am - 7pm
The narrow backstreets to the north and west of the Great Mosque comprise Xi’an’s Muslim Quarter. These streets harbor a never-ending array of stores and stalls selling all manner of trinkets and souvenirs. This also is a good place to sample street food ranging from hot pots to kebabs.