Xi’an’s Muslim Square

This tiny refuge of Muslim culture in China captured my heart and sent me on a journey of the mind.

     I recently went on the Jericho High School exchange program which allowed me to visit the wonderful and modern city of Xi’an in China’s Shaanxi Province. On the last day of the trip, I explored popular Xi’an tourist destinations with my new friends from Xi’an. One of the places we visited was a destination known as Muslim Quarter. The second that we arrived at Muslim Quarter, I became enamored by its sights, sounds, and smells. In this wondrous place, my friends and I ate fried squid on a stick, which actually tasted really delicious, and we chatted with Chinese people dressed in traditional Muslim attire. It was so fascinating to see this tiny outcrop of Muslim subculture thriving in a country known for its uniformity. As a result of my obsession with this place, I immediately began doing research about it once I traveled back to America.

Here are some of the interesting facts and stories I found. Enjoy!

     Muslim Quarter is actually composed of a couple of different streets with Huimin Street and Beiyuanmen Street being the most famous. Allegedly, the reason for the large Muslim population in Xi’an has to do with its title as beginning of the Silk Road many years ago. Supposedly, merchants, students, and diplomats from Persia and Arabic countries traveled along the Silk Road in ancient times to Xi’an to do business and study in Ancient China. When they came to China, they settled in Muslim Quarter. Over time, as these individuals began to marry and have children, their population in Xi’an increased. Now, there are over 20,000 Muslims living in Xi’an with most residing in Muslim Quarter. To accommodate all of these followers of Islam, there are over 10 mosques in Muslim Quarter. Muslim Quarter’s visual appearance can best be described as eclectic. A wide main street lined with stores that are of the architectural style of Ming and Qing dynasty buildings branches off into stifling alleyways that lead to Mosques and stores selling knock-off products in this unique and unusual cultural destination. Muslim Quarter, in addition to being home to historical stores and 10 mosques, is also home to monuments from the Tang and Ming dynasties and is even home to a Taoist Temple! Locals like to visit Muslim Quarter during the summer for a bite to eat because Muslim Quarter allows visitors to sample its delicacies which include cakes, fruits, breads, and plenty of skewered meats under the shade of tall trees. The Muslim community in Xi’an, although very close-knit, is always welcoming to outsiders and they welcomed me like I was family. So, I highly suggest you pay Muslim Quarter a visit if you ever go to Xi’an. You won’t be sorry.  

Here are some awesome sources I found. Check them out!



There are 25 comments

  1. Daryn N

    Wow! So cool. I love that you had a chance to explore such an incredible place during your exchange trip and the Muslim Quarter sounds like a great place that I would love to visit.

  2. Avery Porges

    Going here was a real treat, but at the time I knew very little about where I was. After reading this, I wish I had known more historical context on what was lying all around us. Awesome work!

  3. Juliann L

    I like how you were interested in a place you visited and looked up facts about it when you got home. It’s great how you were able to experience how diverse China is, in terms of both religion and culture. I’m glad you were able to visit the Muslim Quarter!

  4. Jason S.

    This was a great article Michael! It was so interesting to learn about this unique part of Xi’An. I think it’s so cool that scholars and diplomats from Persia and Arabic countries all came and settled in the same place in China! Good job Michael!

  5. Matthew Lecher

    I thoroughly enjoyed traveling to this historic centre of Xi’an, getting right down to the source. Michael, you did an excellent job of summing up the history of how the Muslims came to Xi’an, and how they conduct their simple local life. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Logan C

    Awesome article Michael! I had no clue about the Muslim population in Xi’an before reading this article and now I am compelled to go visit the Muslim Quarter.

  7. Emily

    Beautifully written Michael, who knew there was so much history behind a street full of food! Knowing this makes me want to pay another visit to Xi’an. Thanks for sharing the information.

  8. Tiffany C.

    Wow! I had no idea there was a place dedicated to Islam in China. I love how you incorporated the history behind the Muslim Quarter and how descriptive you were with how you saw it. I learned so much from this article. Great job!

  9. Nicholas Yum

    China is such a diverse place! With 56 different ethnic groups, there was bound to be an area in which Muslim culture thrived. Thanks for sharing such a unique experience with us!

  10. Preethi S.

    Interesting article Michael! I like how you found it interesting about this unique part of Xi’An that you even wrote an article about it. It’s amazing how you were able to experience the diverse parts of China. I did not know that there was a Muslim population in China. Thanks for sharing!!

  11. Stephanie Cen

    I was so surprised about all of these facts even after having been there myself. Thanks so much for the pictures and your description.

  12. Herin Ahn

    It’s very interesting that there is a Muslim Square in China. I think it’s going to be really cool for me if I go there because I’ve never experienced any sort of Muslim culture.

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