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Samarkand Ulugh Beg Observatory Madrasa main entrance
© AlexelA / Shutterstock

Ulugh Bek Observatory

This Timurid era observatory aided in many 15th century discoveries, and was the gathering place for many prominent astronomers and mathematicians.

Ulugh Bek was the grandson of Timur, and was more known as an astronomer than as a ruler. The original three-storey structure was built in the 1420s and designed to observe star positions. But the only remains today are the curved track of this huge instrument, unearthed in 1908. Exhibits at this small museum include a model of the original observatory and a copy of the 1605 map of the world that was created here.

Many skilled mathematicians and astronomers were invited to build, work and teach in the observatory. These included Jamshid al-Kashi, Ali Qushiji and Qadi Zada. The observatory was built differently than other buildings in its time, and used the Maragheh Observatory as inspiration. It was made of brick which was relatively unstable and caused the builders to create the base of the structure underground in order to allow for the desired height. Today, the entryway to the observatory is all that lies above ground, and holds the museum of commemoration, established in 1970.

Many World Heritage sites are temporarily closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Please check official websites for more information.

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Ulugh Bek Observatory

Hours

8AM - 8PM daily