Id Kah Mosque

Admission:

RMB 30

Hours:

Varying, subject to permission and prayer schedules

How to get there:

The Id Kah Mosque is located on Jiefang Lu (Jiěfàng Lù, 解放路), on the Western side of Id Kah Square right in the center of Kashgar, north of Renmin Square (Rénmín Guǎngchǎng, 人民广场) and the giant Mao Zedong statue.

Kashgar's majestic yellow-tiled Id Kah Mosque (Àitígǎěr Qīngzhēnsì, 艾提尕尔清真寺) has been the heart of the region's traditional Muslim culture since its completion in 1442. Today, it remains one of China's largest mosques, frequently hosting ten to twenty thousand worshippers on holy days.

Visitors are tolerated but only to the extent that they show the expected levels of respect for the institution. Women are advised to cover up bare limbs and all visitors should be wary of turning a serious place of daily worship into a touristic spectacle (it's not unheard of for outsiders who disturb the mosque's sanctity to be ushered off the premises). It's best to pick the right time to visit; mid-morning is usually the best bet for admission, while Fridays and major prayer days are no go, though the scene outside the mosque on festival days can provide a real feast for the eyes and ears as traditional musicians accompany vigorous Uyghur dance and song.

If you do visit, you'll find a sprawling complex covering some 16,800 sq m (four acres), with cool courtyards, elegant poplar and pine-shaded gardens, a spacious prayer hall and elaborate decorative carvings on the surfaces of pillars, walls and gates. Be discreet when taking photos and remember to remove your shoes before entering carpeted areas.

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