Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Rome: The "City of Obelisks"

During a holiday to Rome in July 2011 I managed to squeeze in some Egyptology-related sightseeing, namely following the trail of obelisks around the city which Labib Habachi dubbed the "City of Obelisks". There are 13 obelisks standing in the city today, more even than in Egypt, and although I didn't have the time to see every one (I only managed to get to 8), I'd like to share some of my holiday snaps of the obelisks that I did see, some of which were inscribed in Egypt then brought to Rome, and others were brought uninscribed from Egypt and subsequently decorated in Rome. 

Piazza Della Rotunda
Red granite, 6.34m, 19th Dynasty
Originally erected by Ramesses II at Heliopolis
Now outside the Pantheon of Hadrian
Piazza dell' Esquilino
Red granite, 14.75m, Unknown date
Originally erected on the western flank of the Mausoleum of Augustus
Now outside the church of Santa Maria Maggiore

Monte Citorio
Red granite, 21.79m, 26th Dynasty
Originally erected by Psamtek II at Heliopolis
Now outside the Italian Chamber of Deputies building
Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano - "Lateran Obelisk"
Red granite, 32.18m, 18th Dynasty
Undoubtedly quarried in Aswan
Originally erected by Tuthmosis III at the Temple of Amun, Karnak
Now outside the Lateran Palace
Largest obelisk in Rome
Piazza Navona
Red granite, 16.54m, inscribed in Rome
Originally erected by Domitian near the Iseum
Now in the Piazza Navona
Piazza San Pietro
Red granite,23.37m, uninscribed
Originally erected in the Julian Forum in Alexandria by Augustus
Now in front of St. Peters Cathedral
Trinita dei Monti
Red granite, 13.92m, inscribed in Rome with a copy
of the Popolo inscription of Seti I and Ramesses II (below)
Originally erected in a private residence (Horti Sallustiani)
Now in front of the church of Trinita del Monti (Spanish Steps)
Piazza del Popolo
Red granite, 32.77m, 19th Dynasty
Originally erected by Ramesses II at Heliopolis (inscribed by Seti I and Ramesses II)
Now in the Piazza del Popolo
(note the man in Egyptian costume in front of the obelisk!)

The remaining obelisks that I didn't see are:
- Monte Pincio (Red granite, 9.25m; inscribed by Hadrian)
- Villa Celimontana (Red granite, 2.68m; originally erected by Ramesses II at Heliopolis, smallest obelisk in Rome)
- Piazza della Minerva (Red granite, 5.47m; originally erected in Sais by Psamtek II)
- Piazza del Quirinale (Red granite, 14.64m; originally erected on the eastern flank of the Mausoleum of Augustus)
- Vialle delle Terme di Diocleziano (Red granite, 9.25m; originally erected in Heliopolis by Ramesses II)

I also managed to find a couple of other Egyptianizing monuments whilst in Rome, I'll be sure to put up those images in a second blog post. 

All information after Habachi, L., (1977), The Obelisks of Egypt: Skyscrapers of the Past, London: Biddles Ltd, where you can also find more information about the obelisks I missed on my visit.

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