This lushly landscaped mosque with four graceful courtyards may have been established as early as ad 742, during the Tang Dynasty, but the remaining buildings date mostly from the 18th century. Amazingly, it was left standing during the Cultural Revolution. Stone tablets mark the various pavilions, often bearing inscriptions in both Chinese and Arabic. Look above the doors and gates: there are some remarkable designs, including three-dimensional Arabic script that makes
the stone look as malleable as cake frosting. Non-Muslims are not allowed in the prayer hall, as the mosque is still an active place of worship. The place is a bit hard to find. After passing through the Drum Tower, follow a small curving market street called Hua Jue Xiang on the left. (You'll see an English sign posted on a brick wall next to the street's entrance reading "Great Mosque.") When you reach a small intersection, the mosque's entrance is on the left. The bustling Muslim Quarter surrounding the mosque is the center of the city's Hui (Chinese Muslim) community. It's a great place to wander, and you'll find endless food stalls offering everything from cold sesame noodles to pan-fried dumplings to spicy mutton kebabs.
30 Hua Jue Xiang, Xian, 710004, China