Rome Obelisks Tour

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Ever seen an obelisk? I guess so. But if you haven’t, just come in Rome and you won’t even have to find’em. Just take a walk around the city center and they will make their appearance. That’s because Rome is the city with the largest number of obelisks in the world. 19 to be precise, 13 of which are ancient, meaning half of all the ancient obelisks in the world. Raised in Rome, I never really thought about it. It just seemed normal to me, driving in the streets passing by beautiful squares adorned with obelisks.

Apparently my old pals here, fell in love with obelisks the day they conquered the Egypt. That’s why 8 of the ancient ones are original Egyptians. I wouldn’t say they’re stolen though. We won the war, then Egypt became a Roman Province. They are rightfully ours. Right?! Just kidding. The other 5 are Roman replicas. They must have really been so fond of them. Anyway, in ancient Rome they used to adorn theaters, circuses and anphitheatres. Then we got barbarian invasions and pretty much everything got ruined. Then we got the Popes to finish the job. But this is another story. Staying on the subject, the Popes recovered the ancient obelisks and put them in the center of some of the wonderful squares we have.

I’ve been seeing them all the time, since I was a kid. But I had never seen them all at once. And that’s what I did last Saturday. The ancient obelisks tour. Perhaps I should mention I got a new city bike, and that’s how I got this insane idea. I’m enjoying riding in the city, these days, and checking out some suggested circuits along the center, I came to know about this tour. It was a wonderful sunny day Saturday, then I thought why not?!

Starting from home, 24 km and 13 stops and 13 shots as evidence that I did it. Well, I had a couple of more stops because this little journey took me to routes I usually don’t take, so I got a couple of views that really were worth a shot. Plus, as always, passing by the Pantheon I couldn’t help having a coffee granita at the Tazza D’Oro. Anyway here’s my photo reportage. I hope you’re gonna do it yourself some day. If you are, that’s how I did it.

Tour Requirement

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  • Brompton bike (or else)
  • Gold’s Gym tank top (super recommended in summer)
  • Oakley sunglasses (or else, but Oakley are pretty cool)
  • L.A. Trainer
  • A little bit of madness

No need to bring water, since you can find a fountain every hundred meters, which pours an unbelievably good and super fresh water.

1 Obelisco Laterano

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Egyptian, XV century BC. The biggest monolithic obelisk of the world and the most ancient of Rome.

2 Obelisco Esquilino

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Roman replica, originally standing at the entry of the Mausoleo di Augusto.

3 Obelisco di Dogali

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Egyptian, today adorns the memorial to the soldiers died in the War of Ethiopia.

4 Obelisco del Quirinale

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Roman replica, it’s the twin of the Obelisco Esquilino. Together they used to adorn the Mausoleo di Augusto.

5 Obelisco Sallustiano

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Roman replica, it’s now standing at the top of the Spanish Steps.

6 Obelisco del Pincio

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Roman replica, its real name is Obelisco di Antinoo. Adriano built it to adorn the Mausoleo di Antinoo, who was, say, a dear friend.

7 Obelisco Flaminio

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Egyptian, it used to be the spike of the ancient Circo Massimo. Today stands in the middle of Piazza Del Popolo, right in front of the Chiese Gemelle.

8 Obelisco Vaticano

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Egyptian, it’s the only one that never fell down. It used to be standing just a little bit farther, adorning the Circo Di Nerone, exactly where today there is the Saint Peter Sacristy.

9 Obelisco Agonale

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Roman replica, probably the one that got the most beautiful square. It adorns the famous Fontana Dei 4 Fiumi by Bernini.

10 Obelisco del Pantheon

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Egyptian, it stands in front of the Pantheon.

11 Obelisco della Minerva

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Egyptian, it’s the smallest in Rome, and its base is another famous statue by Master Gian Lorenzo Bernini, The Little Elephant.

12 Obelisco di Montecitorio

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Egyptian, imported by Augusto, who made it work as a gnomon for a big meridian situated in the ancient Campo Marzio.

13 Obelisco di Villa Celimontana

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Egyptian, aka Obelisco Capitolino because it used to be standing in Piazza Del Campidoglio, it used to adorn the Iside Temple in the ancient Rome.

John Reese


About Gianluca8675

I'm an Atypical Italian Traveler, born and raised in Rome. View all posts by Gianluca8675

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