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Once the largest city in the world, Xian served as the capital of China for 1000 years.   It is now the capital of Shaanxi Province, a large industrial city of wide boulevards, teeming traffic and a permanent haze of pollution 

It is one of the few cities in China where the city walls remain.  Although there had been much restoration it wasn't possible to walk around the city via the walls



Xian is a city which comes alive at night.   The night food market is especially popular with locals and visitors


Stir fry, BBQ kebabs, noodles it's all  here for the asking.  The high temperatures it is cooked at allayed any fears of stomach upset
More than 60,000 Hui Muslims live in Xian.  The winding street markets of the old Muslim quarter are a great place to pick up inexpensive souvenirs.  Bargaining is the order of the day



All kinds of food are available on the street, these are dumplings, little round dough balls filled with meat and steamed.  They are tricky to eat with chopsticks
Danger Men At Work and with no safety equipment of any kind

On the left: An itinerant tailor calls to women in the windows above the street to throw down clothing for him to repair


Da  Qingzhen Si ( Great Mosque)

Arabs and Persians came here along the silk route introducing Islam to China in 742AD.  They remained, intermarrying with the Han Chinese.  Today very few are able to speak Arabic.   One of the largest mosques in China and the only one  in the world where the call to prayer is in Chinese and the minaret is a pagoda




The Minaret

Called to prayer

During the Cultural Revolution a band of Red Guards arrived to destroy the Mosque.  They were persuaded by the Iman to spare the historic buildings.  The Mosque was closed and the occupants sent to work in the fields
Only Muslims are allowed inside the Great Hall.  After the prayer service the men retrieve their shoes and disappear as quickly as they came
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