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Beijing Ancient Observatory

Attraction 2 Dongbiaobei Hutong Dongcheng, Beijing China Published on: 08-08-2016


Time to visit

2 hours 30 mins

Opening hours

09:00 AM - 04:30 PM

Should visit at

10:00 AM

Should leave before

11:30 AM

Good for travellers

First-time visit


Must see

Price range

2.95 USD

Beijing Ancient Observatory is good for

Good for family with kids Family with kids Good
Good for senior Senior Good
Good for couple Couple Good
Good for solo Solo Good
Good for group Group Good
  • Highly recommended by fellow travellers.
Beijing Ancient Observatory has a good international reputation with its well-preserved buildings and instruments. It plays an important role in field of technology and science.

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Why Beijing Ancient Observatory is special ?

Beijing Ancient Observatory is located in the southwest side of Jianguomen crossroad at Dongcheng District. Beijing Ancient Observatory belongs to China’s key national units of cultural relics protection. Among the existing ancient observatories in the world, the observatory has maintained the longest continuous observation record in history. Moreover, Beijing Ancient Observatory has long enjoyed a good international reputation with its well-preserved buildings and complete instruments. The observatory not only holds practical astronomical observation tools, but also unique historical treasures of the world. The Beijing Ancient Observatory was rebuilt as the Beijing Ancient Astronomical Instrument Exhibition Hall, and still plays an important role in the fields of technology and science.

Source: http://www.chinahighlights.com/

What to explore at Beijing Ancient Observatory?

Elaborate equatorial armillary sphere

This instrument is displayed in the northeastern area of the Beijing Ancient Observatory. It weighs 5,145 kilograms and is 3,379 meters high. This elaborate equatorial armillary sphere was the last large copper apparatus made during the Qing Dynasty, and reflects the development level at that time in terms of metallurgical manufacturing and carving mode.


The sextant is on display at the southern area of the Beijing Ancient Observatory and is next to the equatorial armillary sphere. It weighs 802 kilograms and is 3.274 meters high. In China, such instruments were made during the Qing Dynasty.

Ecliptic armillary sphere

The ecliptic armillary sphere weighs 2,752 kilograms and is 3.492 meters high. It is China's first observation apparatus for an independent frame zodiac coordinate system.


The altazimuth weighs 7,368 kilograms and is 4.125 meters high. It was the only astronomical instrument that adopted French decorative arts during the western Renaissance period.

Horizon circle

Displayed at the southern end of the Beijing Ancient Observatory, the horizon circle weighs 1,811 kilograms and is 3.201 meters high.

Equatorial armillary sphere

The equatorial armillary sphere weighs 2,720 kilograms and is 3.380 meters high. It was often used as an astronomical observation instrument in ancient China, and has more than fourteen usages, mainly to measure right ascensions and declinations of stars.

Celestial globe

The celestial globe weighs 3,850 kilograms and is 2.735 meters high. It is displaced at the middle-west side on top of the Beijing Ancient Observatory.


The quadrant is also called the zenith sector, and is displayed on the northwest side on top of the Beijing Ancient Observatory. It weighs 2,483 kilograms and is 3.611 meters high. The instrument is mainly used for measuring the distance of the stars on the horizon or the distance to the zenith.

Source: http://www.chinahighlights.com/

How to get to Beijing Ancient Observatory?


Subway Line 1, Subway Line 2: get off at Jianguomen Station and get out of the station from Exit C (southwest exit).

Bus Route:

Take bus no. 805 Express, 434, 957, 668, 9, 829, 640, 827, 637, 674, 638, 29, 25, 39, 938 Express, 673, 639, 666, 59, 403, 420, 10, 122, 204 Outer Line, 209, 729, 805, 938, 52, 203, 204 Inner Line, 20, 692 and get off at Beijing Railway Station East.

Source: http://www.travelchinaguide.com/

Selling points

  • Unique historical treasures of the world
  • Technology and science
  • Well-preserved buildings
  • Complete instruments
  • Good international reputation
4 Days of Solo Backpacking in Beijing

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4.0 days
143.03 USD
Total travel distance
Number of places
12 places




2 Dongbiaobei Hutong Dongcheng, Beijing China

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Tips for you

  • This site is very easy to get to since it is only about three blocks from the Beijing Railway station and 100m from a subway stop where line 2 and line 1 meet
  • They close on Tuesdays
  • It is not allowed to enter in
  • This place is located right next to the Subway Line-2 Jianguomen Station
  • A must-visit for anyone interested in science history or astronomy, or to see something genuinely different.
  • It is very important to read something about it before visiting.


TripAdvisor View more

This place is located right next to the Subway Line-2 Jianguomen Station, though you can see the ancient navigation instruments on top of a section of the old Beijing City Wall from far away. It is a small museum and an interesting one. Besides the ancient instruments on display, it also has three exhibition rooms, showing the history and technologies in navigation. Most of the stuff has English explanations.

TripAdvisor View more

The Ancient Observatory is an absolute gem in the heart of Beijing. If you are looking for an attraction that is different, historical and interesting then I'm sure this will be for you. I don't know why this is has criticized so heavily.

TripAdvisor View more

The Ancient Observatory is a museum showcasing China's development in astronomy. Most of the advances were made as a result of western influence, particularly Jesuit missionary sharing of western technology. However, the Chinese put their own spin on them. This site is very easy to get to since it is only about three blocks from the Beijing Railway station and 100m from a subway stop where line 2 and line 1 meet. It is quiet and uncrowded. Most of the signage is in Chinese, but there is some English. There are indoor and outdoor spaces, including a rooftop and a garden area with astronomical instruments. It is quiet space in a busy city and would be of particular interest to the astronomy fan.

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