Muslim quarter - Xi'an
About Muslim quarterAs the name implies, the Xi’an Muslim quarter is the area were the Muslim community of Xi’an is concentrated. It is located just north of the Drum Tower in the city center; the quarter covers several blocks and it is inhabited by over 20,000 Muslims. There are about 10 mosques in this area with Great Mosque in the Huajue Lane being the most famous and popular. But the area is not so popular among the tourists because it is the hub of the Chinese Muslim community in Xi’an, but because is a well known food and souvenir market. The main street, Beiyuanmen Muslim Street, about 500m long, is a really charming place; the street paved with dark colour stone has restaurants, stores and stands on both sides and all the owners are Muslim.
A bit of history:In the old days, Beiyuanmen Muslim Street was the place for diplomats and merchants. Gradually, the population increase and the descendants of those immigrants are the today inhabitants of the area. The inhabitants of Muslim quarter are devout followers of Islam and they form a very closed and united community ; the people know each other very well as they grow together, get married inside the community and live their entire life working at their family business.
Food heaven:In terms of food, the Muslim street is a heaven for the gourmand. You can find here pretty much everything that you can think about: meet skewers, snacks, candies, hand made noodles, fruits or pies.Some famous and distinctive dishes you can find here are: Crumbled Unleavened Bread in Mutton Stew (Yangrou Paomo), fried rice with pickled Chinese cabbage and little capsicum, roast beef, mutton or lamb or steamed stuffed bun of Jiasan, made of beef or mutton mixed with the soup decocted from the bones of sheep or cattle.
And photographer’s heaven:For a photographer, Muslim quarter is also extremely rewarding. Women dressed in colorful clothes, man wearing white caps and beards, they smile at you behind their food stand. Some are may be camera shy and will turn their head. But some of them will not mind; as a result, they will be a nice human element in an image featuring all kind of foods and fruits. And the street is always full of crowds. Some stands have long queues; so it is really an adventure to catch a glimpse of the owner while serving the never ending flow of people. The smells are so varied and inviting and the owners are screaming loudly to attract customers. A vivid and effervescent area is a real heaven for photographer as well as the food lover.
See other posts about our trip in China here.