Ancient Observatory (Guguanxiangtai), Beijing

3.9
#2 of 10 in Childrens Museums in Beijing
The Beijing Ancient Observatory is a pretelescopic observatory located in Beijing, China. The observatory was built in 1442 during the Ming dynasty, and expanded during the Qing. It received major reorganization and many new, more accurate instruments from Europeans (Jesuits) in 1644. As one of the oldest observatories in the world, the Beijing Ancient Observatory grounds cover an area of 10,000 square meters. The observatory itself is located on a 40 by 40 wide meter on a 15 meter tall brick tower, an extant portion of the old Ming dynasty era city wall that once encircled Beijing. Several of the bronze astronomical instruments are on the platform, and other armillary spheres, sundials, and other instruments are located nearby at ground level. It is operated as a museum in affiliation with the Beijing Planetarium.HistoryIt was said that in 1227, the Jin dynasty transferred the ancient astronomical instruments from Kaifeng to the first observatory in Beijing. In 1279, the succeeding Mongols under Kublai Khan built a new observatory just north of the current observatory. Kublai Khan made his chief adviser of hydraulics, mathematics and astronomy, Guo Shoujing, director of the observatory in 1283 after the death of Guo's friend and predecessor Zhang Wenqian. After the Mongols, Zhu Yuanzhang, the founding Ming Emperor, transferred the instruments from Beijing to Nanjing. When the Yongle Emperor came to power, he had craftsmen make copies of the instruments in Nanjing and sent them to the Beijing observatory.
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Ancient Observatory (Guguanxiangtai) Reviews
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65 reviews
Google
4.1
TripAdvisor
  • I love science and Chinese history, but this museum felt lacking. The historical signifigance is great, but the joy of discovery is lacking.  more »
  • I personally found this very disappointing. The instruments are fenced off and placed up high, so you can't really get a good look at them at all. And in addition to that the explanations only state w...  more »
  • This observatory is the best preserved in the world. On top of the “city wall” 8 ancient measuring “tools” installed. This barely visited place is located on the southeast corner of Jianguomen Street ...  more »
Google
  • Great piece of history! I learned a lot from this place! The artifacts are very well-kept. Right behind the subway station! However, the staff seem very bored, as they are always doing other things, like making clay structures. This area is also in the rather poor district of Beijing. The opening times are also a bit inconvenient.
  • It's directly accessible from exit C of the Jianguomen metro station on line 1 or 2. The observatory houses the old astronomical equipment. The information sign is sparse on details. On clear days, this is a nice viewing area. There are 3 exhibition halls on the ground level have details on ancient time keeping instruments and constellation recordings. Only an hour is needed for the visit.
  • I haven't been, but how can it be bad?
  • Very interesting. A good and cheap way to spend half an hour. Quiet place. 20 rmb per adult, 5 for kids
  • This is one of the oldest observatories in the world. It feels almost like it has been abandoned, since there is not much of a tourist attraction. The structures are beautiful, and well preserved. It was worth the price of admission.
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