Historical Religious Sites, Xian

Historical Religious Sites (Self Guided), Xian

A melting pot of different cultures and faiths, Xian, once the start of the historical Silk Road, for centuries had seen traders from far and wide come to do business. Many a foreigner eventually settled in Xian, bringing along their cuisine, customs, and religious practices. Hence the number of pagodas, Buddhist and Taoist temples, as well as mosques found in the city, some of which trace back over a thousand years.

One of the most prominent religious sites in Xian is the Great Mosque. This exquisite mosque, constructed during the Tang Dynasty, is a blend of traditional Chinese and Islamic architectural styles. Its serene courtyards, ornate prayer halls, and iconic wooden pagodas are a sight to behold. The Great Mosque provides a unique opportunity to explore the harmonious coexistence of two distinct cultures in one religious edifice.

Another noteworthy place of worship is the City God (or Chenghuang) Temple. Built during the Ming Dynasty, this sanctuary is dedicated to the patron deity of Xian. Its architecture showcases intricate carvings, colorful decorations, and a serene ambiance.

Lastly, the Wolong Temple, often referred to as the Sleeping Dragon Temple, is an oasis of tranquility. This Buddhist temple is known for its serene gardens, ancient pagodas, and beautiful sculptures – a peaceful retreat for those seeking solace and spiritual reflection amid the city's hustle and bustle.

On this self-guided walk, you can witness firsthand the architectural wonders of Xian's historical temples. This is a unique opportunity to delve into the city's diverse cultural heritage and appreciate the fusion of styles and spiritual traditions that have shaped it over the centuries. Go for it!
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Historical Religious Sites Map

Guide Name: Historical Religious Sites
Guide Location: China » Xian (See other walking tours in Xian)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 3
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 Km or 1.8 Miles
Author: helenp
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Great Mosque
  • City God Temple
  • Wolong Temple (Sleeping Dragon Temple)
Great Mosque

1) Great Mosque (must see)

The Great Mosque in Xian is the place of worship of the Muslim population. It is the oldest, largest and best preserved mosque in China.

The Great Mosque was built in Xian during the reign of the Tang Dynasty in 742 AD. Several additions were made to the original structure during the reigns of the Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties. Xian is located at the beginning of the historic Silk Route and Muslim traders from other parts of Asia came here for purchasing silk and selling products from their respective countries.

The Great Mosque has a traditional Chinese design unlike those in Arabia and Persia. There are no minarets. The Mosque complex covers an area of 6000 square meters and has four courtyards. The first courtyard has a tile covered wooden arch constructed in the 17th century. There are chambers on either side with furniture dating back to the Ming and Qing Dynasties. The second courtyard has a stone arch and steles engraved with calligraphy. The main prayer hall with enough space to accommodate a thousand worshippers is found in the fourth courtyard. It is the only mosque open to visitors in China. Non Muslims are not permitted to visit the main prayer hall when prayer is in session.
City God Temple

2) City God Temple

In many Chinese cities, there is a template dedicated the city god. The City God Temple in Xian is one of the largest city god temples in China. Located on West Avenue, just a short walk away from the Drum Tower, it is one of the only two remaining Taoist temples inside the walled old city.

The current temple was built in 1432 during the Ming Dynasty. Over time additional buildings were added to provide ancillary functions. Today the City God Temple complex includes an archway, the Pavilion of the God of Literature, the Gate of Etiquette, the Hall of Birth Year, the Hall of Fire God, and a number of other buildings.

The temple was damaged during World War II and again during the Cultural Revolution in 1960s. But it has since been beautifully restored. The temple is free to enter and you are free to wander around, but please be respectful to the worshipers there since it is an active temple.
Wolong Temple (Sleeping Dragon Temple)

3) Wolong Temple (Sleeping Dragon Temple)

The Wolong Temple is a Chinese Buddhist temple located one block north of the Forest of Stone Steles Museum in Xian. Wo Long means Sleeping Dragon and the temple is also called the Sleeping Dragon Temple.

The Wolong Temple was built over 1800 years ago during the reign of Emperor Lingdi of the Han Dynasty between 168 and 189 AD according to the details recorded in a stone stele. It was called the Fu Ying Chan Yuan temple during the reign of the Sui Dynasty. During the reign of the Tang Dynasty, a painting of Guanyin, Bodhisattva associated with compassion, by artist Wu Doazi was installed here and the temple's name was changed to the Guanyin temple. It got its present name, Wolong Temple, between 976 and 997 when during the reign the emperor Taizong of the Song Dynasty. The name was that of a revered Buddhist monk who rested within the temple after his many travels.

In 1901, the Emperor Guagxu and the Empress Dowager Cixi fled to Xian after the Boxer Rebellion. They expanded the temple and ordered statues from Mongolia and Tibet. There is also a large bell cast in the year 1033. The recently restored Wolong Temple continues to be an active place of worship for Buddhists in Xian.

Walking Tours in Xian, China

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Create Your Own Walk in Xian

Creating your own self-guided walk in Xian is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
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