April 17, 2015

"O" is for Obelisk

An obelisk is a four-sided stone pillar that tapers into a pyramid-shaped point at the top. These monuments originated in ancient Egypt but conquering Romans shipped many of these massive structures back to Rome where they still stand today.

St. Peter's Square, Rome

The most impressive obelisk in Rome may be the Vatican Obelisk at the centre of St. Peter’s Square. The 4,000-year old obelisk was brought to Rome by Caligula and moved three times before finding its final resting place.

The Vatican Obelisk

The fountain in front of the Pantheon on Piazza della Rotonda features a much smaller obelisk.

Piazza della Rotonda, Rome

Not far from the Pantheon is my favourite obelisk. It stands on the back of Bernini's elephant in front of Rome’s only gothic church, Santa Maria sopra Minerva.

Bernini's Elephant and Obelisk

The Romans weren’t shy about making copies of antiquities they admired. The obelisk in front of Santa Trinita dei Monti church at the top of the Spanish Steps is a Roman copy. The original Egyptian obelisk is in Piazza del Popolo.

The Spanish Steps, Rome

The obelisk in Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers is also a Roman copy. This fountain is the centrepiece of Piazza Navona, one of Rome’s most popular squares.

Fountain of the Four Rivers, Piazza Navona

Today Rome has the most obelisks in the world and these ancient monuments mark some of the modern city’s greatest sights.


  1. Fantastic. I think I have been to everyone of those Roman spots, but not sure I noticed all the obelisks. I have an obelisk today too.

    1. There's just so much to see wherever you go in Italy. It's hard to take it all in. I'll come by to see your obelisk.

  2. Your pictures are so lovely. Thanks for sharing.


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