The Great Mosque of Xi'an is a tranquil and historic mosque that has served Xi'an's Muslim community for more than a millennium. It is one of the largest and best preserved ancient mosques of China. The buildings are a fascinating fusion of Chinese and Arabian styles.
Pavilion for Introspection (called Xing Xin Ting in Chinese) rises over ten meters tall, the octagonal brick tower consists of three stories separated by eaves and enveloped in wooden balconies. It is designed in traditional Chinese style: the exterior is decorated with blue glazed tiles and dragon heads. Inside, the carved ceiling is brightly painted with lotus flowers.
The prayer hall, which is the focus of these mosque complexes, occupies 1,270 square meters. It is divided into three sections: a porch, great hall, and projecting qibla bay (iwan), each with a separate roof. The prayer hall is beautifully decorated with bas-relief woodwork and Quranic inscriptions. In front of the prayer hall stands the Feng Hua Ting (Phoenix Pavilion). Dating from the Qing Dynasty, it is named for its resemblance to a phoenix with its outstretched wings. The Chinese-style roofline conceals an Islamic-style wooden cupola that covers the central space. Lecture halls flank the courtyard.
In Xian, it is really well worth a trip to see the Great Mosque, which is the only one open to visitors from 8 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Non-Muslims, however, are not admitted to the main prayer hall or during times of prayer.