The Great Mosque of Xi'an, located near the Drum Tower (Gu Lou) on Huajue Lane of Xi'an, is one of the oldest and most renowned mosques in the country.
It was first built in the Tang Dynasty (reign of Emperor Xuanzong, 685-762) at the eastern end of the Silk Road, and renovated in later periods (especially during the reign of Emperor Hongwu of the Ming Dynasty). It remains a popular tourist site of Xi'an, and is still used by Chinese Muslims (mainly the Hui people) today as a place of worship. Unlike most mosques in Middle Eastern or Arab countries, the Great Mosque of Xi'an is completely Chinese in its construction and architectural style, except for some Arabic lettering and decorations, for the mosque has neither domes nor minarets.
The mosque occupies an area between 12,000 to 13,000 square meters and the buildings cover more than 6,000 square meters, the Great Mosque was built in the shape of a rectangle from the easy to west, and is subdivided into four countyards.
The first courtyard contains an elaborate wooden arch nine meters high covered with glazed tiles that dates back to the 17th century. In the center of the second courtyard, a stone arch stands with two steles on both sides. On one stele is the script of a famous calligrapher named Mi Fu of the Song Dynasty; the other is from Dong Qichang, a calligrapher of the Ming Dynasty.
At the entrance to the third courtyard is a hall that contains many steles from ancient times. As visitors enter this courtyard, they will see the Xingxin Tower, a place where Muslims come to attend prayer services. A 'Phoenix' placed in the fourth courtyard, the principal pavilion of this great mosque complex, contains the Prayer Hall, the surrounding walls of which are covered with colored designs. This Hall can easily hold 1,000 people at a time.