Maragheh Observatory

By the Editors of the Madain Project

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Maragheh (Marāghé or Marāgha) observatory (Persian: رصدخانهٔ مراغه‎) also known as Khajeh Nasir Observatory, was an institutionalized astronomical observatory which was established in 1259 CE under the patronage of the Ilkhanid Hulagu and the directorship of Nasir al-Din al-Tusi, a Persian scientist and astronomer.


Remnants of the observatory's main instrument, protected under a dome. It is not known with certainty until when it had been active. It turned into ruins as a result of frequent earthquakes and lack of funding by the state.

It was financed by waqf revenues, which allowed it to continue to operate even after the death of its founder and was active for more than 50 years.

Modern Preservation Efforts

circa 1259 CE

To save the installation from further destruction, Cultural Heritage Organization of Iran built a dome-framed shelter and it plans to hold an exhibit of astronomical devices used at Maragheh observatory. Located in the heights west of Maragheh, East Azerbaijan Province, Iran, it was once considered one of the most prestigious observatories in the world. The observatory is currently covered with a dome-framed brass structure and is situated two miles west of Maragheh.


circa 1259 CE

Considerable parts of the groundwork are preserved in the ruins. In a 340 times 135 m citadel-like area stood a four-story circular stone building of 28 m diameter. The mural quadrant to observe the positions of the stars and planets was aligned with the meridian. This meridian served as prime meridian for the tables in the Zij-i Ilkhani, as we nowadays apply the meridian which passes the Royal Greenwich Observatory.

circa 1259 CE

Colage, clockwise order from upper left: The observatory during the 1910s, the set of units found at the hill level of the observatory was as follows : Central Tower, platform Staircase, materials, what remains of the interior decoration. Upper right: Tusi Couple. Lower right: architectural drawing. Lower Left: tubes and cavities of glazed pottery in excavations of the hill of Maraghe observatory.

Astronomers who worked at the observatory

circa 1259 CE

An image from the book Zij-e Ilkhani written by Khajeh Nasir al-Din al-Tusi shows the Khajeh Nasir Tusi Group or Maragheh Observatory Group at work in the Observatory. The major members of the group headed by Khajeh Nasir were Moayed Aldin Orozi, Fakher Aldin Maraghi, Fakher Aldin Ekhlati, Najm Aldin Dabiran.


circa 1500/1600 CE

The observatory served as a model for later observatories including the 15th-century Ulugh Beg Observatory in Samarkand, the 16th-century Taqi al-Din observatory in Istanbul, and the 18th-century Jai Singh observatory in Jaipur.


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