The central Chinese city of Xi’an is ringed by the dusty tombs of emperors and the former palace gardens of the ancient Tang capital Chang’an. But deep in its heart lies the Great Mosque (清真寺 qing zhen si), a place of worship and a garden of contemplation which has been in existence for over one thousand years.
Its buildings and courtyards blend Chinese architecture with Islamic prayers, calligraphy, and garden design. Walk among monuments and stone inscriptions of Muslim prayers. Fountains and greenery echo the Islamic idea of paradise as a garden. A stone archway bears a tablet which reads 天监在兹 (tian jian zai zi), which means Heaven truly is here.
As you exit the mosque back into the autumn evening, the call to prayer rings out from the many minarets of the Muslim quarter. The season’s baskets fill the market streets with walnuts, pomegranates and dates, open courtyards are spread with drying ears of corn, and the air is fragrant with nuts and spices roasting. Download China Tea Leaves 西安 Xi’an to find out how to find the Great Mosque and the flavours of this ancient capital of China.