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Obelisco Lateranense, Rome

4.3
#845 of 2,606 in Things to do in Rome
Obelisco Lateranense is located in Rome. Use our Rome online tour builder to visit Obelisco Lateranense on your trip to Rome, and learn what else travelers and our writers recommend seeing nearby.
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  • This is the largest standing ancient Egyptian obelisk in the world, and it is also the tallest obelisk in Italy. As it is right outside the Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano, you can't miss it.  more »
  • We sometimes wonder, is there ant antiquities left in Egypt. However a good Egyptian friend said to us, he doesnt mind other countries having things like an obelisk of such, as it is the best travel a...  more »
  • This Obelisk is in red granite, the largest in the world, erected by Pharaoh Thutmosis III in Karnak in Egypt. It was brought to Rome in 357 by Emperor Constantius II (337-61) and re-erected in the Circus Maximus. Pope Sixtus V (1585-90) got it raised at its current place in 1587.
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  • The obelisk, taller then one at Saint Peter's. Later i read that it's the tallest ancient egyptian obelisk in the world. So don't forget to see it. In the vicinity is Lateran basilica and Porta Asinaria, where Goths broke the city defences in 6. century.
  • According to Rome Tourism's Obelisk PDF brochure, there are fourteen obelisks in Rome. Eight are Egyptian and six Roman, (the Romans created replicas with hieroglyphs), Obelisco Lateranense is one of the eight Egyptian obelisks. None of the Egyptian obelisks were gifted, Augustus was the first to start bringing them back to Rome after Egypt was conquered. This is the oldest and tallest obelisk in Rome and is considered the highest still standing obelisk in the world. Obelisco Lateranense, made from a single block of red granite, was quarried from Aswan and commissioned by Thutmose III in the 15th century BC. It lay incomplete in a workshop for 35 years, before eventually being erected by his grandson Thumose IV at the Temple of Amun-Ra in Karnak, (Thebes). Obelisks were made in pairs and this was the only single obelisk ever erected at Karnak.  Augustus had his eye on this one, however it proved too arduous, to get back to Rome. Constantine I, was the next to covet it for Constantinople but he died in 337 AD, before it left Egypt. His son Constantius II decided to have a shot at it and succeeded, probably a case of third time lucky. He had a special ship built, manned by 300 rowers, for the removal of the obelisk in 357. This was the last of the obelisks to be brought to Rome. It was placed in the centre of the Circo Massimo, with the nearby Flaminio Obelisk, which Augustus had brought from Egypt 300 years earlier. The obelisk over centuries had disappeared, it is thought maybe an earthquake toppled it, or it was destroyed by the Goths. Pope Sixtus V wanted the obelisk found and it was, in 1587 buried 7 metres down in the Circo Massimo area, broken into three pieces, he then commissioned Domenico Fontana to erect it. The obelisk is now 32.18 metres high, however, it was 36 metres but 4 metres was lost from the bottom, as a result of relocating it from the Circo Massimo. It was topped with a cross and heraldic symbols of Pope Sixtus V, then re-erected in Piazza San Giovanni, in 1588. It is estimated to be around 455 tons.  Saw obelisks in Egypt two years ago and they were magnificent, as is this beautifully preserved obelisk with hieroglyphs still incredibly detailed. It's a shame Sixtus V had to include the mess at the top.
  • Most impressive of them all.
  • Impressive!!!! The tallest obelisk in Rome
  • At least 1300 BC! 1300 BC! Take a moment to think that through.
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