It’s hard not to notice the Great Mosque on a stroll of Dongguan Street, Xining. And with magnificent islamic architecture that combines together towers, a palace-like prayer hall, and a dazzling green Arabian-style dome, it’s hard not to walk past without being drawn in.
Built on a grand scale combining both Chinese traditional architectural art and Islamic architectural features, this is the biggest mosque in Qinghai Province, and one of the one of the four great mosques in Northwestern China.
Since the Mosque was built in 1380, it has become an important place of worship and assembly for Chinese Muslims. Boasting a history which spans more than 600 years, Dongguan Great Mosque is not only famous for its impressive architecture, but now also serves as a religious education center and as the highest Islamic education center in the province.
A Fascinating Experience in Qinghai
With its name “Xining Dongguan Great Mosque” shining at the top of an imposing entrance, a visit for those touring Qinghai is a fascinating experience.
About 7,000 people attend prayer activities every day, and the population rises to approximately 20,000 on Juma (a congregational prayer that Muslims hold every Friday, just after noon), and 200,000 on Islamic festivals. As long as you stay behind the main prayer assembly area they let you watch the proceedings, take photographs, and this offers a fascinating insight into Muslim culture.
“There is nothing like witnessing the sea of white skullcaps with family and friends exchanging warm greetings, eating, shopping in the market behind the Mosque, and eventually gathering in and spilling out around the Mosque for prayer.” – Brad J.
Interact With the Locals
If you speak a bit of Chinese, take the time to chat and interact with the Chinese Muslims you see there. They are incredibly friendly and happy to answer any questions about their experience or daily life in this part of China. As a non touristy city in China, locals are equally as fascinated by your experiences and daily life as a foreigner, especially as international tourists are somewhat of a novelty in this region.
Should you not speak Chinese, they are just as willing to engage in charades, allow you to take their photograph (ask first), and will likely whip our their iPhone and request a photo in return!
Since the Great Mosque has been reconstructed and expanded throughout different ages, it integrates various architectural styles with harmony and is a brilliant scenic spot in Xining. Don’t miss the food market in the Muslim district right next door.
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