Kangxi Celestial Globe Rolling from China to Leuven

De Kangxi Hemelglobe- The Celestial global and the five other astronomical instruments designed by Ferdinal Verbiest in 1675 at the request of the Kangxi emperor exist at the ancient observatory in Bejing where Verbiest worked.

In 1901, after the Boxer rebellion, Verbiest ‘s instruments were taken away by European armies as spoils of war. After World War I, in 1921, they were returned to Beijing in compliance with the Versailles Peace Treaty.


The making of the Kangxi Celestial Globe was a milestone in history. It expresses both Chinese and western academic traditions. From the technical point of view, the Kangxi Celestial globe is a masterpiece with regard to structure, design, and ornamentation.

In 1985, during a visit to the Ancient Observatory in Beijing and a meeting with Prof. Yi Shitong of the Observatory, The Ferdinant Verbiest Foundation discussed the idea to make an identical replica of the Celestial Globe of Verbiest and bring it to the KU Leuven.

After several meetings followed and the agreement was finally signed on July 4, 1987. The Globe was shipped from the Chinese port of Tianjin in 1988 and arrived in Antwerp. It was transported to Leuven in 1989.


The globe is located in the courtyard of the ATRECHTCOLLEGE of KU Leuven (Naamsestraat 63). It seems that this globe makes Leuven more attractive to Chinese students.

(Source: KU Leuven, Atrecht College) , Photo by Aslı Tezcan 

Kangxi Celestial Globe Rolling from China to Leuven