The Egyptian Obelisk in St. Peter's Square, Vatican, Rome - 4000 years old
3300BC-1200BC Bronze Age Europe Italy

The Egyptian Obelisk in St. Peter’s Square, Vatican, Rome – 4000 years old

July 15, 2018

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The Egyptian Obelisk in St. Peter’s Square, Vatican, Rome – almost 4000 years old

Year  1835 BC
Type  Egyptian Obelisk
Getting there  Car, plane, train
Made by  According to some documents it was constructed during the time of King Nuncores of Egypt 
Where  Heliopolis, Egypt
When to visit
  • Anytime

Official website

  • St Peter’s Square – free entry but long queues to security check
  • You can rent audio guides after security check
Location in Rome    Vatican, Rome, Italy, Europe
Did you know?

  • The obelisk is made from pink granite
  • There is placed the center of the square.
  • It was hewn from a single block and stands 25.31 m. high on a base 8.25 m. wide.
  • The obelisk was built by the Pharaoh Mencares in 1835 BC in Heliopolis, Egypt,  in honor of the sun.
  • It was brought to Rome in 37 AD by the Emperor Caligula (37-41)
  • It originally stood in his circus, latter named circus of Gaius and Nero, on a spot to the south of the basilica, close to the present Sacristy.
  • It was silent witness of the martyrdom of St. Peter and of many other Christians.
  • It is the second highest obelisk in Rome, after the Lateran one, and the only one without hieroglyphics, but with Latin inscriptions.
  • It is also a sun dial, its shadows mark noon over the signs of the zodiac in the white marble disks in the paving of the square.
  • For pagans, the obelisk was a solar symbol that represented a vital flow between heaven and earth, a way of communicating to the divine.
  • As a pagan monument in the greatest Christian square, it is a symbol of humanity reaching out to Christ. Originally inscribed to “Divine Augustus” and “Divine Tiberius” and now dedicated to the Holy Cross – “Christus Vincit, Christus Regnat, Christus Imperat. Christus ab omni malo plebem suam defendat.” It is topped by a bronze cross containing a fragment of the true Cross.
  • During the Middle Ages, a metal globe was on the top of the obelisk. It was believed to contain the ashes of Julius Caesar