Obelisk in ancient Egypt symbolized Ra the Sun God. Today, there are thirteen Egyptian Obelisks in Rome. Some of these are authentic Egyptian pieces and others are mere Roman copies of the original. Following their conquest of Egypt, Roman Emperors ordered a shipment of these structures in Rome and here they stand today.
The first of Egyptian Obelisks shipped to Rome was the Flaminio. It reached here in 10 B.C. at the order of Emperor Augustus following his conquest of Egypt. This transport paved way for many more in the subsequent years. Later Egyptian artisans also started building these structures on the behest of wealthy Romans. During the sixteenth century following the fall of the Roman Empire, marauding armies destroyed many of these monuments. Pope Sixtus V in the latter half of sixteenth century took on the restoration work and placed them as street focal points under his urban development plans. Addition of crosses and papal inscriptions come from this period.
Tall and imposing Egyptian Obelisks symbolize the grandeur of an ancient culture
Egyptian Obelisks draw attention by their sheer height and have a magnetic pull owing in relation to the history and culture of ancient Egypt. While many of them are scattered across Rome, some of them are more popular compared to others. The most famous of these structures obviously is Vatican or Augustus Obelisk. It is located at St. Peter’s Square and it stands proud with a magnificent twenty-five meter height. This structure has remained here since 37 AD when Sixtus V ordered its erection.
The tallest obelisk however is thirty-two meter tall Thutmose IV Obelisk and is situated opposite Lateran Basilica. It originally came from Amun Temple in Karnak during 357 A.D. This magnificent structure draws the attention of the visitors here automatically due to its sheer size. Besides these prominent ones, there are many other all across Rome. This includes one at Circus Maximus with lion fountains and sculptures added to it later.
How to Reach Egyptian Obelisks
To get to St. Peter’s Square in Rome where the magnificent red granite Augustus Obelisk stands visitors need to get on the Line A of Rome Metro to San Pietro Ottaviano. Those who want to reach St. Lateran Basilica to view the tallest of the Egyptian Obelisks, Thutmose IV Obelisk can get off at St. Giovanni and continue on foot from there to the destination.
Since, the Egyptian Obelisks are situated on various Piazzas across Rome visitors can see them during their sojourn. There are no opening hours applicable to these structures.