Essential Architecture-  Peking

Niujie Mosque




in Beijing's Xuanwu District, the spiritual centre for the 10, 000 Muslims living in the vicinity




Ming Dynasty Sino-Islamic


The Niujie Mosque is a famous Islamic temple covering an area of approximately 6000 square meters. The mosque is a mixture of Islamic and Chinese cultures. The outside shows the Chinese influence while the inside decoration is rich in Islamic flavor. The Mosque, built of timber, protects some important cultural relics and tablets, such as the upright tablet of an emperor's decree proclaimed in 1694 during the Qing Dynasty.


Niujie Mosque


The Niujie Mosque is the oldest mosque in Beijing, China. It was built in 996 and reconstructed as well as enlarged under the Kangxi Emperor (1622-1722).

The Mosque in located in Beijing's Xuanwu District, the spiritual centre for the 10, 000 Muslims living in the vicinity and it is the biggest and oldest one in Beijing. Beijing has about 250,000 Muslims. The Niujie Street in Xuanwu District, where the mosque is located, is the largest area inhabited by Muslims in Beijing.

The Niujie mosque, the largest among the 68 mosques in the Chinese capital, was built in 996 AD during the Liao Dynasty (916-1125), the mosque was rebuilt in 1442 in the Ming Dynasty and expanded in 1696 under the Qing Dynasty. It is now one of the major mosques in north China.

The Niujie mosque has undergone three renovations since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, respectively in 1955, 1979 and 1996.

The Beijing Municipal Government has started rebuilding a residential area mainly inhabited by Muslims. The work on the 35.9-hectare area around Niujie Street will involve moving 7, 500 families, 58 per cent of whom are Muslims. The project will turn Niujie Street into a Muslim-style commercial street. The area will be home to multi-storey buildings, schools, kindergartens and public facilities. Niujie is presently a narrow street where most people live in old houses with a per capita floor space of 5. 1 square metres. In recent years, the Beijing government has completed a number of infrastructure projects to improve water, electricity, heat and gas supplies there. Beijing municipal government launched a project to improve local people's living conditions through demolishing old and shabby houses and building new multi-story buildings in the area in 1997.

[  Video walk through of the Niujie mosque


Niujie Mosque in Beijing gets facelift
By Li Jing (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-04-26 06:35

Repair work on a 1,000-year-old mosque in the heart of the Muslim-dominated Niujie area of Beijing started last week.

Built in 996 during the Liao Dynasty (907-1125), Niujie Mosque is the oldest and largest Islamic place of worship in Beijing.

The renovation project, with an investment of nearly 20 million yuan (US$2.4 million), includes repairs not only on the current 5,000-square-metre mosque, but also on two nearby buildings.

These were originally part of the mosque, but were later occupied by other work units.

The organizations that took over the two buildings, including a primary school and several other institutions and businesses, have found new homes and have moved out.

The two buildings, covering more than 4,000 square metres, will be given back to the mosque after renovation work that is scheduled to be completed by the end of this year, according to Yu Ping, vice-director of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Cultural Heritage.

Yu said one of the buildings would resume its original function as a site for female Muslims. The second building might be turned into the office of the Islam Association of Xuanwu District.

Muslim Lu Chaoliang, 71, who has lived in the Niujie area all his life, was very happy to hear of the renovation project.

"The mosque is the spiritual centre for the 10,000-plus Muslims living in the vicinity. I'm glad to know it will be expanded and returned to its original layout.

"The mosque's size will almost double with the completion of the renovation and female Muslims will have their own place of worship," said Lu.

"I hope workers will follow Islam's rules during the work," he added.

Wei Chunjie, deputy head of the administrative office of the mosque, said the renovation work would not only include repairs to ancient buildings, such as the Prayer Hall and the Watching Moon Tower, but also cover water, electricity and heating supply systems.

Wei said since the mosque could not be used for religious services during the renovation period, the district's Islam association has chosen a building 200 metres away as a temporary home.

"It is very convenient for me to go to the new place and pray every day. Otherwise, I would have to walk a long distance to other mosques in the city.

"The building is also owned by local Muslims and was returned to us recently. I am grateful for the government's religious policy," said Lu.

Islam was introduced into China in the Tang Dynasty (618-907).

At present, there are about 250,000 Muslims in Beijing, according to official statistics.

The Niujie quarter has the most Muslims in the capital.

The Niujie mosque has undergone three renovations since 1949 -in 1955, 1979 and 1996. The municipal government has also repaired many other mosques in recent years, such as Tongzhou Mosque and Dongsi Mosque.

(China Daily 04/26/2005 page3)