Originally built during the Tang Dynasty over a thousand years ago, the Huaisheng Mosque is thought to be the oldest surviving mosque in China and home of the earliest freestanding minaret. While the mosque was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1350 and again in 1695, its 108-foot (32.9-meter) tall minaret has always been a major landmark in Guangzhou.
According to an ancient Chinese manuscript, the Huaisheng Mosque was built by a Muslim missionary by the name of Abu Wangus, thought to be an uncle of the prophet Mohammed, on the first mission to China sometime in the 630s. Whether it was actually built by Abu Wangus or someone else in the early Song Dynasty, the mosque remains a popular pilgrimage spot for Muslims visiting southern China as well as a memorial to the missionary.
The mosque and its minaret meld traditional Tang-dynasty and Arabic-architectural characteristics. If you make the climb to the top of the minaret, once used as a beacon for boats on the Pearl River, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of the city. Visitors to the mosque should dress modestly, including a head scarf for women. The main prayer hall is only open to Muslims.