China's largest Islamic community is in the country's largest province, Xinjiang. The province is home to 10 million Uighur Muslims and they constitute up to 46% of the total population in Xinjiang. Situated in the northwest frontier of China, Xinjiang spans over 1.6 million sq. km, bordering Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.
Over centuries, people from many different communities and cultures traveled through the Silk Road and lived in Xinjiang. It was here that China was linked to the outside world. Now, there are over 20,000 mosques and some of the biggest and most beautiful ones in China are in this province. Xinjiang’s top Muslim tourist attractions includes not only mosques. They also include other historical Islamic architecture such as the Emin Minaret and Abakh Hoja Mousoleum.
The Tartar Mosque is considered one of the oldest and largest in Urumqi and is a main center for worship with an area of 3000 square meters. Located in the end of Jiefang Road of Urumqi, the magnificent Tartar Mosque was built by the local Tartar people in 1897 from private donations. The Tartar Mosque was built in typical Tartar architecture. The walls, doors and windows of the mosque are decorated with various traditional carvings and ornaments in the form of plants and geometric shapes. The ceiling of the mosque is covered with gold. The prayer hall could accommodate up to 4000 worshippers. The mosque also has a lecture hall, private rooms for the Imam, reception hall and utility rooms.
Id Kah Mosque
Located on the west side of Id Kah Square, at the center of Kashgar City, the Id Kah Mosque is the biggest mosque in China. It was built in 1442. Originally it was a small structure and now the whole complex covers 16,800 square meters. During Friday prayers, it can accommodate up to 10,000 people, including those who pray in the square outside the mosque. The mosque's architecture represents Uighur and Islamic style architecture. It is the symbol of Uighur cultural and religious presence for the whole of the Northwest China and Central Asian countries.
Abakh Hoja Mousoleum
Abakh Hoja Mousoleum, is a 17th Century family cemetery of Abakh Khoja, a powerful ruler of Kashgar. The mousoleum, better known as the Tomb of Xiang Fei, is located 5 km north-east from the centre of Kashgar. It was first built in 1640. The mausoleum covers an area of about five acres. It is made up of a mausoleum, four prayer halls, one lecture hall and a massive Uyghur cemetery. Considered as the holiest Muslim site in Xinjiang, Abakh Hoja Mausoleum is a masterpiece of Uyghur architecture.
Emin Minaret is the largest ancient Islamic tower in Xinjiang and the tallest minaret in China. The minaret is about 43 meters high and the base is about 10 meters wide. It was built in 1777 in honour of the heroic Turpan general, Emin Khoja, who had traveled to Mecca and helped to defeat a rebellion in the Qing Empire. Situated 2km east of Turpan, Emin Minaret displays the typical features of Uyghur architecture with its circular structure and interesting mix of geometrical and floral patterns. Next to the minaret is the Emin Mosque, which is one of the largest mosques in Xinjiang.