Rome is full of obelisks. Those commemorative monuments
are becoming a passion. They came to Italy from the ancient Egypt during 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.
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.
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.
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