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The Great Mosque of Guangzhou





The Great Mosque of Guangzhou

The Great Mosque of Guangzhou, known also as Huaisheng Mosque (Memorial of the Holy Prophet) or the Guangta Mosque (Light Tower Mosque), is thought to be the earliest surviving mosque in China and has the earliest freestanding minaret in China. 

The mosque was first built during the Tang Dynasty, or in the early years of the Song Dynasty, and was entirely rebuilt in 1350 during the Yuan dynasty under the rule of Zhizheng (1341-1368), and rebuilt again in 1695 under Emperor Kangzi of the Qing dynasty, after being destroyed in a fire. The Huaisheng Light Tower, the mosque's unique namesake minaret, was built at an earlier period. The Great Mosque of Guangzhou is notable for its integration of the local Han building tradition with imported Arab styles.

The mosque complex covers an area of about 3,000 square meters and stretches along the north-south axis, in the Chinese fashion. The prayer hall was rebuilt in concrete in 1935.

The Light Tower has no precedent in China with its thick cylindrical masonry shaft and internal stairway. Its tapering brick shaft rises to a height of 36 meters atop a 10 meter stone base. The minaret balcony, which is used for the call to prayer, is thought once to have had a beacon to guide boats on the Zhujiang River at night. It is said that when ships sailing along this segment of the river considered the tower as the sign that they had arrived at the beginning of the 'maritime silk road'. 

The complex also includes quarters for the imam, a tablet pavilion for the storage of scripture, and an ablution area, all composed in the open pagoda style with traditionally sculpted and tiled roofs complimenting the roofs of the prayer hall and of the secondary gateway. 

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