The obelisks in Rome


Rome in far and wide

The obelisks were a distinctive feature of architecture of ancient Egypt.  We are aware of 27 erected Egyptian obelisks arrived to our days. The largest number of Egyptian obelisks is right in Rome; they are as many as 10.

Other 5 obelisks can be found in other Italian cities, 2 in Benevento, one in Florence, one in Urbino and one in Catania.

Five obelisks are in Egypt, 3 in the UK, including one in London, one in Paris, one in Istanbul, one in Israel and one in New York.
With the exception of those found in the UK, in Paris and in New York, that have been transported to modern times, all other obelisks that are found outside Egypt were transported during the Roman Empire period. When you consider that the transportation to London of the Cleopatra Needle, occurred during the nineteenth century, turned out to be extremely complicated for the costs and logistics, you can imagine the high level of technology and that was must reached by the ancient Romans that moved 17 obelisks.
The ancient Romans absorbed very quickly and constituted the fundamental cultural traits of the countries they conquered. This also was the case with Egypt, became a Roman province in 30 BC, after the battle of Actium, that occurred the previous year, in which the forces of Octavian, later Augustus, defeated the joint forces of Marcus Antonius and Cleopatra. The ability to absorb the culture of other peoples was probably the base of the Roman Empire long survival not only as a political entity but also as a psychic entity still present in the imagination of the Western world.

The two most important Egyptian obelisks are the Lateran, located near the Basilica of St. John Lateran, which is the highest monolithic obelisk in the world, and the Vatican obelisk, placed in front of St. Peter, the only one in Rome that never collapsed. The placement of these two obelisks near the two most important churches in the world explains the role of Rome, a city that unites the oldest known civilization, the Egyptian one, and the universality of the Christian Church.

In addition to the obelisks from ancient Egypt to Rome there are 3 other obelisks erected in the days of the empire and created following the Egyptian style imitating the hieroglyphs. That the passion of Rome and Romans to the obelisks is not over, is shown by the other six obelisks made in modern times, the last being in 2004, the obelisk XX Century, realized by Arnaldo Pomodoro.
There are also numerous other urban decorations, such as streetlights in Via della Conciliazione, realized following the typical form of the obelisk.

Link to the map of obelisks in Rome