This is a world-renowned astronomical building established 700 years ago. Constructed from gray stones, the building is ... More
Beijing Ancient Observatory
This is a world-renowned astronomical building established 700 years ago. Constructed from gray stones, the building is sometimes mistaken as a section of the Great Wall in the urban center of Beijing. Several large, ancient, bronze astronomical devices on display were designed by early Jesuit astrologers and are well-worth looking at. They reflect a high level of complexity in terms of their construction, and they are also extraordinarily accurate for practical observation. The Ancient Observatory now belongs to the Beijing Planetarium.
If you want to get a sense of the city of Beijing BEFORE the walls were torn down in the 1950's, visit the Ancient Observatory atop the Jianguo Gate in Beijing. Behind the thick stone walls of the gate, the sights and sounds of busy downtown Beijing all but disappear. Climb the stairs to the observatory (sorry, this place is not handicapped accessible) and visit a fascinating collection of astronomical instruments largely built by the Jesuits in the early 17th Century and adopted by the Ming Dynasty emperors who used them for such things as predicting the time of eclipses and the vernal and autumnal equinox. You'll probably spend about a half an hour here. Then you want to go to the Temple of Heaven (Tian Tan) to see how these astrological predictions figured in imperial ceremonial rituals.
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