Great Mosque of Xi’an

After a day of rest I was excited to visit the Great Mosque of Xi’an, the oldest mosque in China.

I was was looking forward to seeing the blend of Arabic and Chinese architecture and to be able to capture it with my camera. But there was something about it that was calling me. While in Nanjing I visited a temple and while there I felt a sense of peace and I think I hoping to find that at this mosque too.

I knew the Great Mosque was somewhere in the alleyways as I saw signs in a few places. I knew I would find it on the “main” road in the alleyways and there it was.

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I went down this narrow alleyway and got a feeling, “Perhaps this is wrong? But there an official sign.” but at the end of the alleyway there was a old wall with a beautiful design which made me concur I was heading in the right direction. I went left which was wrong so I went right and I was right.

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I paid fifteen yuan to enter since it was “sluck season.”

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For the most part the mosque was pretty empty. There was some other tourist taking photos like me and walking around. The mosque consists of four courtyards and at the end the prayer hall.

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While walking around a prayer started happening. All the men took off their shoes and entered the prayer hall.

Waiting outside on a bench was a little girl and her mother. I decided sit down too and just enjoy the moment. I said to the girl in Mandarin, “Hello. My name is Emily. And you?”

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l felt disrespectful taking pictures of the prayer hall while they were praying so I walked around the courtyard.

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The men all left and I watched as they went out side the mosque walls. While leaving the little girl’s dad I asked if I could take a picture with her. I could tell she wanted one so I obliged. I usually don’t take pictures with people who want to take a picture with “the foreigner” but I did talk to her first and she was a sweet little kid.

By this time I had the whole place basically to myself. I heard some men chanting in a hidden room. A man walking on the path said “Ni hao” to me. As a white person in China, I get hellos shouted at me almost daily so I absolutely loved getting a “ni hao.” It made me feel respected but more importantly welcomed.

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