Italy 3300BC-1200BC-Bronze Age Europe Archaeological sites, ancient temples

Vatican Obelisk from St. Peter’s Square – 4000 years old

Vatican Obelisk in St. Peter's Square, Vatican, Rome - 4000 years old
4000 years old Vatican Obelisk from St. Peter's Square is an Egyptian Obelisk that was brought to Rome by Caligula. It was a silent witness of the martyrdom of St. Peter.
Year1835 BC
TypeEgyptian Obelisk
Getting thereCar, plane, train
Made byAccording to some documents it was constructed during the time of King Nuncores of Egypt 
WhereHeliopolis, Egypt
When to visitAnytime
TicketsSt Peter’s Square – free entry but long queues to security check
You can rent audio guides after security check
Location Vatican, Rome, Italy, Europe

How old is Vatican Obelisk?

Vatican Obelisk in St. Peter’s Square is an Egyptian Obelisk that is almost 4000 years old.

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 Emperor Caligula (37-41)

It originally stood in his circus, later named the circus of Gaius and Nero, on a spot to the south of the basilica, close to the present Sacristy.

What is the Vatican Obelisk made of?

Vatican obelisk is made from pink granite

It was hewn from a single block and stands 25.31 m. high on a base 8.25 m. wide.

There is placed in the center of the square.

It was a 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.

Vatican Obelisk is a Sundial?

  • It is also a sundial, 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.

What does the obelisk symbolize?

When we speak of the Egyptian obelisk we do not speak of an obelisk but of many obelisks scattered throughout the world. The significance of the obelisk is much disputed. Some say it represents masculinity, others say it is a sundial, others say it is the symbol of Osiris. We may never know, but it is worth traveling around the world to discover the beautiful Egyptian obelisks.

During the Middle Ages, a metal globe was at the top of the obelisk. It was believed to contain the ashes of Julius Caesar