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Slovenia Unveils Replica of Hallerstein’s Historic Armillary Sphere

In a symbolic gesture of friendship, Ljubljana has recently witnessed the unveiling of a replica of the 18th-century armillary sphere by Ferdinand Avguštin Hallerstein, marking a testament to the enduring cultural and diplomatic relations between Slovenia and China

In the heart of Ljubljana’s historic quarter, a replica of an armillary sphere, constructed by the eminent 18th-century Slovene polymath, Ferdinand Avguštin Hallerstein, during his extensive tenure at the Chinese imperial court, has been unveiled. This replica stands as a testament to the burgeoning Sino-Slovenian camaraderie.

Spanning 3.7 metres in length, 2.1 metres in width, and reaching a height of 3.3 metres, Hallerstein’s original armillary sphere, or spherical astrolabe, was distinguished by its innovative integration of a heliocentric model, prevalent in Europe at the time, with an equatorial positioning, a method traditionally favoured in China.

Positioned adjacent to Šentjakob Bridge, within the vicinity of Grubar Palace and not far from Zvezdarska Street—namesake of the erstwhile observatory housed within the palace—the replica is strategically placed in an area steeped in historical significance.

The unveiling ceremony, held on the 6th of February, was graced by President Nataša Pirc Musar, who eloquently articulated the monument’s dual homage to Slovenian diplomatic and scientific endeavours, courtesy of Hallerstein’s dual role as a diplomat and scientist, as well as the robust ties fostered between Slovenia and China.

The Chinese Ambassador to Slovenia, Wang Shunqing, echoed this sentiment, highlighting the monument as a symbol of four centuries of amicable Sino-Slovenian exchanges. He lauded Hallerstein’s 36-year sojourn in China as the genesis of these friendly relations and commended his significant contributions to the dialogue between Eastern and Western civilisations.

Hallerstein, born in Mengeš, just northeast of Ljubljana, embarked on his academic journey at the Jesuit college in Ljubljana, subsequently continuing his studies in Vienna. Post his academic pursuits, he ventured to China in 1736, via Goa and Macau, assuming the prestigious position of head of the royal observatory in Beijing in 1739, and later ascending to the rank of mandarin, thus etching his name in the annals of history as a bridge between diverse cultures.

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