Obelisks of Rome

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Ancient obelisks provide powerful reminders of the debt Roman civilization owed to the Egyptians. Architects have learnt to incorporate them into Roman piazzas in fascinanting ways.

Romeguide - The Obelisks of Rome

The Obelisks of Rome - See The Picture aobove:

  • I vatican Obelisk

  • II Obelisk at Esquilino

  • III Lateranese Obelisk 

  • IV Flaminio

  • V Agonale

  • VI Minerveo

  • VII Macutteo

  • VIII Quirinale

  • IX Sallustiano

  • X Campenese

  • XI Mattejano

  • XII Aureliano

  • XIII Dogali

 History of Obelisks

Rome is full of obelisks. Those commemorative monuments are becoming a passion. They came to Italy from the ancient Egypt during the imperial period.
After the empire has fallen, they were neglected until the Sisto V (1585 and 1590), who decided to put them in the middle of Rome squares, at proximity of the seven basis of indulgence, to makes the Pilgrims visit easier. 
The project was in charge of the architect Domenico Fontana, who invested obelisks in the most important areas strategically.
The most ancient and tallest of Rome's Obelisks is the obelisk of Piazza di San Giovanni in Lanterano. Built of red granite, 31 m (100 ft) high, it came from the temple of Amon at Thebes, erected in the 15th century BC. It was brought to Rome in AD 357 by the order of Constantine II and put up in the Circus Maximus. In 1587 it was rediscovered, broken into three pieces, and was re- erected in the following year. Next in age is the obelisk in Piazza del Popolo, from the 12th  or 13th  century BC. It was brought to Rome in the time of Augustus and also erected in the Circus Maximus. The slightly smaller obelisk  of Piazza Montecitorio was another of Augustus trophies.
Other obelisks, such as the one at the top of the Spanish Steps are Roman imitations of Egyptian originals. The obelisk of Piazza dell' Esquilino and the one in Piazza del Quirinale first stood at the entrance to the Mausoleum of Augustus. When re-erected, most obelisks were mounted on decorative bases, often with statues and fountains at their foot. Others became integral parts of sculptures. Bernini was responsible for the marble elephant balancing the Egyptian Obelisk of Santa Maria sopra Minerva on its back, and for the Fontana dei Fiumi, with an obelisk from the Circus of Maxentius. 
Another obelisk was added to the remodelled Pantheon Fountain in 1711. The obelisk in Piazza San Pietro is Egyptian but does not have the usual hieroglyphics.  
The obelisk of Axum was brought by Mussolini's army from Ethiopia in 1937 as a war trophy. It now stands by the United Nations building near the Circus Maximus


click over images to zoom 

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Egyptian Obelisk of Santa Maria sopra Minerva
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Obelisk in Piazza San Pietro
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Obelisk in The Piazza Colonna
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vedi anche:
Romei e Giubilei
Vist Sistine Chapel
Vatican Tours
The Pilgrim Card
Rome Underground Tours
Visit Vatican Gardens
Cultural Guides in Rome
Palazzo Massimo alle Terme
Museo del Corso
New Marvelous Museums of Rome
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