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Ancient Observatory

Introducing Ancient Observatory
Built in the Yuan Dynasty (1271 -- 1368) and served as the national observatory in ancient China’s Ming and Qing Dynasties, the Beijing Ancient Observatory is one of the oldest observatories in the world. It is famous for its integrated construction, delicate instruments, long history and unique status in the cultural exchanges between the East and West. With a high reputation in the world, it gains much popularity among oversea visitors. Many superior officials and illustrious scholars have left their footprints there, such as former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former Belgian prime minster Guy Verhofstadt.

Ancient Observatory Fast Facts
• Chinese Name: Beijing Guguanxiangtai 北京古观象台
• Best Time to Visit: All year around
• Recommended Visiting Hours: About 1 to 2 hours
• Things to Do: Photography, Chinese Culture, Ancient Astronomy
• Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 09:00-17:00
• Entrance Fee: ¥20/person
• Address: No.2 Biaobei Hutong, Dongcheng District, Beijing

What to expect at Ancient Observatory

The original name of Ancient Observatory is the Sitiantai. It was destroyed in the war when the ruler of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) seized hold of Beijing City. The remains were sent to be preserved in Nanjing. In the seventh year (1422) of the Zhengtong reign during the Ming Dynasty, it was rebuilt and then renamed the Star-Observation Platform. A set of apparatuses were reproduced and buildings like the Ziwei Hall and Loufang House, etc., were rebuilt In the Chongzhen reign (1629 -- 1638), Xu Guangqi and Li Tianjing made several apparatuses, such as the Plane Solarium, the Hou's Clock, telescope and sandglass, etc. In the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), some more apparatus were added , and the Star-Observation Platform was renamed as the Observatory.

The Ancient Observatory is a brick hathpace building transformed from the Southeast Turret of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368). In the Ming Dynasty, there were huge copper apparatuses such as armillary sphere and celestial globe, etc., on the platform and the Ziwei Hall, and clepsydra house, solarium hall installed with apparatuses such as gnomon, clepsydra and so on. At the beginning of the Qing Dynasty, the technologies of western countries were used to make the apparatuses as celestial body instrument, equator theodolite, ecliptic theodolite, quadrant instrument, altazimuth, etc. These apparatuses bear a style in the times of Louis 14th in France with a particular taste in both shape and decorative patterns, which are still displayed on the Ancient Observatory.

The astronomical apparatuses of the Ming Dynasty are treasured up in the Zijinshan Planetarium and the Nanjing Museum respectively. The Ancient Observatory is a historic evidence for the great astronomical achievements in ancient China. It is famous far and wide for its long history and the well-preserved apparatuses and equipment.

How to get to Ancient Observatory

By Bus
• Take bus No.1, 4, 9, 10, 20, 29, 37, 39, 52, 120, 122, 403, 420, 728, 729, 802 or 938 to the Beijingzhandong Station.

By Metro
• Take Metro Line 1 or 2, and get off at Jianguomen Station (Exit C).

Additional travel advice on Ancient Observatory
• The Ancient Observatory is closed on Monday.

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