The Obelisks of Rome, Part III

In a couple prior posts, we’ve been “walking” past some of the wonderful obelisks in the heart of Rome’s historic center.  Here are a few more, scattered throughout the city.  Yet again, many of these obelisks have moved among various locations in the city over time.  A few are from ancient Egypt while others are ancient Roman fakes.

At the Piazza di San Giovanni in Laterano (one of Rome’s four major basilicas), there’s an ancient obelisk from the Egyptian temple complex at Karnak.  This is the tallest obelisk in modern Rome.

The obelisk at St. John Lateran
The obelisk at St. John Lateran.

Our next obelisk is an ancient Roman copy and is pictured at the top of this post.  It sits on one of Rome’s seven hills, the Quirinale.  In front of the Quirinale Palace — one of the three official residences of the President of the Italian Republic — this obelisk stands between the enormous, muscular statues of the twins Castor and Pollux, the Dioscuri (the so-called “Horse Tamers”).

The obelisk of the Quirinale, with the imposing statues of the Dioscuri
The obelisk of the Quirinale, with the imposing statues of the Dioscuri.

Yet another ancient Roman copy stands at Piazza dell’Esquilino — on the Esquiline Hill, another of the seven ancient hills — behind the apse of the magnificent Santa Maria Maggiore, another of Rome’s major basilicas.

The obelisk behind Santa Maria Maggiore.
The obelisk behind Santa Maria Maggiore.

Near the Baths of Diocletian, you can find a small “authentic” obelisk.  This one is from ancient Heliopolis and had originally been placed at the Temple of Isis (near today’s Santa Maria sopra Minerva).  Today it’s incorporated into a monument to the Battle of Dogali, fought by the invading Italians in Ethiopia in 1887.

The Dogali obelisk at the Baths of Diocletian
The Dogali obelisk at the Baths of Diocletian.

Villa Celimontana, one of Rome’s many parks, contains a tiny, badly broken Egyptian obelisk, of which — alas! — I do not have a photo.

This leaves one more ancient obelisk, which stands at the center of one of Rome’s most beautiful places, Piazza Navona.  Stay tuned.

 

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