August 26, 2009

The Muslim Quarter has its origins roughly from the year 742 AD when the Great Mosque and its surrounding area first appeared in the imperial records. It developed via the Silk Road trade that would bring merchants from Persia, Afghanistan, and many other Middle Eastern kingdoms. It was because of this trade that many foreign envoys would come to Xi’an to set up shop. These “foreigners” in a strange land would congregate with those who shared their similar beliefs, and thus the Muslim Quarter was born.




Fast forward those initial “foreign” inhabitants through 1,200 years of cultural adaptation and local marriage and you will come face to face with the Chinese Muslim population that lives there today.  They are a tight knit social group that is bound together with literally centuries of shared history and unique culture. In fact, when walking down the main street in the Muslim Quarter every shop keeper and most employees are Chinese Muslims.
The quarter itself is approximately 5 square Kilometers starting at the West gate and ending the Bell Tower it consists of two large East – West roads. From the West street (Xi Da Jie) to Lien Hu Lu it has two large North – South roads, with a multitude of small side streets and walking paths .
One of the main things that has been drawing people, both locals and foreign, to this area for generations, is the food, from the multitude of ka-bobs to the street snacks and desserts the selection is as unique as it is various. The ka-bobs offer everything from the traditional mutton and beef to spicy chicken wings and whole river fish. While the traditional Yang Rou Pau Mo (Crumbled unleavened bread soaked in Mutton stew) is always a great warm-er-upper on those cold winter days. The sweat rice cake desserts and candied dates are a great snack while exploring the dusty streets and quiet shops.

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