Chinese travel to us

During the Tang era (618-907) what is now Xi’an formed a part of Chang’an, which at that time was 37km/23 miles in circumference and had a population of a million or so. The town was divided into two parts. The inner embraced the northern district with the imperial palace and the southern with the seats of government and administration, while the outer part, lying to the east, west and south of the inner districts, was where the ordinary people lived. Its 25 main streets were lined with numerous markets, shops and workshops. Archaeological research indicates that the western section of the town wall was 2656m/2920yd long, the northern 1135m/1248yd and the eastern (divided into three sections) 2610m/2870yd.

The Bell Tower in the town centre stands 36m/118ft high. It was originally built in 1384 on a site a little further west, and rebuilt here in 1582.

Visitors can climb up inside as far as the penultimate floor from where they can enjoy a beautiful view of the city.

Further west from the Bell Tower stands the Drum Tower. It dates from 1370, is 33m/108ft high and stands on a base which is 8m/26ft tall. Apart from this rectangular base it is similar in construction to the Bell Tower.

OnXi Dajie Street stands the Temple ofthe Town God (Chenghuang Miao), built in 1433. The main hall dates from 1723.

The Mosque covers an area of 12,000sq.m/130,OOOsq.ft and lies about 300m/330yd to the north-west of Drum Tower, in a district inhabited mainly by the Moslem Hui minority. There is said to have been a mosque here back in the Tang period (618-907).

The buildings comprises five courtyards with various buildings in traditional Chinese style but with Islamic decorative patterns. Built during the Ming period (1368-1644) the mosque still has a number of its original stelae. The prayer-hall in the main building will hold up to 1000 worshippers.

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