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Ancient Observatory

Beijing Attractions: Ancient Observatory

Ancient Observatory | Back Lakes Area | Beihai Park | Beijing Attractions | Bell Tower | Chairman Mao Memorial Hall | Confucius Temple | Dashanzi | Drum Tower | Forbidden City | Hutong | Great Hall of the People | Great Wall of China | Lama Temple | The Legend Luxury & Entertainment Center | National Grand Theater | National Museum | Prince Gong's Mansion | Summer Palace | Temple of Heaven | Tiananmen Square

Ancient Observatory

Ancient Observatory, Beijing, China
  • Dates back to the time of Kublai Khan (1215-1294)
  • Present building was constructed from 1437-1446
  • Displays astronomical instruments made by the Jesuits
  • Astrology was widely used in ancient China
  • Large, impressive watchtower
  • Close to Jianguomennei Dajie

Built during the reign of Kublai Khan from 1437-1446, Beijing's Ancient Observatory was first used by astrologers to predict the omens for Kublai Khan's land and sea campaigns.



Ancient Observatory, Beijing, China

Ancient Observatory, Beijing, China

In the early 1600s Jesuit missionaries became the Chinese court's official scientific advisers and a collection of the Catholic order's bronze, Western-influenced, scientific instruments is on display on the roof of the building.

The instruments include: an armillary sphere, an azimuth theodolite, a celestial globe, a quadrant, a sextant and a theodolite.

Ancient Observatory, Beijing, China

Early drawing of the Ancient Observatory, Beijing, China



Ancient Observatory, Beijing, China

Jesuit astrological devices, Ancient Observatory, Beijing, China

The astrological devices were built under the supervision of various Jesuit missionary scholars to impress the Chinese rulers and are a fascinating design mix of East and West. The Jesuits hoped to persuade the Chinese of the superiority of the Christian tradition that had produced their star-gazing equipment. The Jesuits also passed on the techniques of cannon-making! Special viewing events are held at the observatory on the occasion of special celestial happenings, such as comets and eclipses. Celestial phenomena were believed by the ancients to portend change and were closely followed by the Chinese emperors.

Ancient Observatory, Beijing.

Access - Getting to the Ancient Observatory

Ancient Observatory
北京古觀象台
2 Dongbiaobei Hutong, Jianguomenwai Dajie, Dongcheng
Tel: 6524 2202
Hours: 9am-4pm

Ancient Observatory Access

Beijing's Ancient Observatory is just a stone's throw from Jianguomen Subway Station. The observatory is 15 minute walk north from the South East Corner Watchtower.

Beijing Ancient Observatory Map


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