People, Travel

Restoring Maragheh Observatory

Restoring Maragheh Observatory
Restoring Maragheh Observatory

The astronomical observatory of Maragheh, once the greatest scientific center of the region, an emblem of Iran as the seat of science and astronomy, today lies in near ruins.  What survives is the foundation and some stone and brick structures.

The astronomical observatory, perhaps the only surviving monument of the capital of Ilkhanid rulers, with its significance being its age, is need of repair and restoration, Zeynab Moradian of Iran newspaper reported.

People of Maragheh are increasingly concerned about their historical observatory. They have aspirations for a museum to be built adjunct to the observatory with the complex itself becoming a centre for research and tourism.

Director general of the provincial Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (CHTO), Farzin Haqparast, cited the proximity of the international department of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) as among the major concerns.  During recent meetings, the officials of IRIB expressed their willingness to move elsewhere, however the challenge will be to identify a hundred-hectare area in a similarly strategic position.

There is agreement, following negotiations with officials of IRIB international department, to carry out urgent repair work on the protective dome, but no further restoration work to prevent further deterioration and a return to its former glory can be carried out yet, Haqparast said.

The director general mentions the lack of sufficient budget as another issue. It is hoped that greater awareness of the importance of this site as the center of Islamic Astronomy will provide the necessary impetus to obtain the required funding to carry out this urgent work.

“Whatever we intend to do, should be first estimated in terms of expenditure. We try to allocate a budget to the restoration of the observatory in the coming year. This, of course, depends on how the country’s economy will fare,” the official said.

Maragheh is considered one of the 7 major projects in East Azerbaijan Province development plan. The city needs more attention to become a hub of tourism, Haqparast added.