There’s nothing more poetic than a starry sky, but the observation of celestial bodies has had a much more profound significance and strategic role in the history of human beings and of Nations. And China and the Empire were no exception. As its sovereign was considered to be the Son of the Heavens, astronomical observations and the monitoring of celestial bodies had essential roles. For this reason, the court of the “Middle Empire” built a large observatory in 1442 during the Ming Dynasty. In fact, it is one of the oldest observatories in the world. This observation point, still visible today, was expanded during the Qing Dynasty in 1644 along with the collaboration of Jesuit missionaries who introduced a number of Western instruments. These were not only innovative for the period but were also remarkably fashioned. The majority of the bronze instruments to be found on the bastions of the ancient city walls were created by the Flemish Ferdinand Verbiest, Jesuit, astronomer and mathematician known to the court of Emperor Kangxi by the name of Nan Huairen. These highly precise instruments are also authentic works of art - armillary spheres, altazimuths and sextants enriched with dragons and floral motifs which bear witness to the cultural exchange between East and West.
A walk across an exceptional University Campus.