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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 prominent astronomers and mathematicians.

Ulugh Bek was the grandson of Timur and was better known as an astronomer than as a ruler. The original three-storey observatory that was named in his honour was built in the 1420s and designed to observe star positions. Today, though, the only remains are the curved track of the huge instrument, unearthed in 1908.

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 of 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 it holds the museum of commemoration that was established in 1970. Exhibits at this small museum include a model of the original observatory and a copy of the map of the world that was created here in 1605.


Ulugh Bek Observatory


8AM - 8PM daily