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Flaminio Obelisk

Present Site:  Piazza del Popolo, Rome
N 41°54'38.6"(41.910722) E 12°28'34.8"(12.476333)
Pharaoh:  Seti I(New Kingdom 19th Dynasty, Reigned 14 Century BC) and his son Ramses II(New Kingdom 19th Dynasty, Reigned 13 Century BC)
Measurement:  23.2 meters high
Weight:  Estimated 235 tons
Stone:  Red granite

About The Site:
This obelisk is located in the center of the Piazza del Popolo. Popolo means citizens in Latin. Piazza del Popolo was the entrance of the northern end of the ancient city of Rome. Three roads were made in a radial pattern to the south side from this square. Santa Maria in Montesanto Church and Santa Maria dei Miracoli, which are known as the twin church, are stood on the south side of this square. These churches were built in the 17th century.

Piazza del Popolo
Piazza del Popolo as seen from the Napoleon Square Terrace


Santa Maria del Popolo church is located at the north side of the Piazza del Popolo. In the Chigi chapel of this church, there is a famous statue of "Habakkuk and the Angel", made by Bernini. But unfortunately, when I went to there in the summer of 2014, Chigi chapel could not be seen due to repair work. The repair work was also carried out from 2009 to 2012.
The name Flaminio Obelisk is derived from "Via Flaminia". Via Flaminia is one of the roads of ancient Roman Empire. This road was from the Piazza del Popolo to Rimini. It was built by Gaius Flaminius in 220 BC.

How To Get There:
Piazza del Popolo is located on the south side from Flaminio Metro Station. The exit of the Flaminio metro station is faced to a small square. If you go to south from the exit, you will see the walls and the gates. The walls are the remnants of the Aurelian walls, and gate is called the Porta del Popolo. When passing through the Porta del Popolo, you get to the Piazza del Popolo.

About The Obelisk:
This obelisk was began to make by Seti I of the New Kingdom 19th dynasty. But Seti I could not complete this obelisk in his era. After his death, his son, Ramses II build this obelisk in the sun temple of Heliopolis.
Octavianus (after the original Roman emperor Augustus, 27 BC - AD 14) defeated Antonius in 30 BC. Cleopatra VII who was married to Antonius committed suicide. Ptolemaic was demise, and Egypt became a Roman territory. After then Egypt became the Territory of the Roman emperor.
In 10 BC, Augustus brought out the two obelisks from the sun temple of Heliopolis. And then many Egyptian obelisks were transported to Roman Empire. The one of these two obelisks is this Flaminio obelisk, and the another one is obelisk in Piazza Montecitorio.
This obelisk was brought to Rome in 10 BC, and erected at Spina in the middle of Circo Massimo. In 357, the another one obelisk was erected next to of this obelisk. It is Lateran Obelisk, now located in the San Giovanni in Laterano square .
The obelisk was discovered at Circo Massimo in 1586, and it was rebuilt in the Piazza del Popolo by Pope Sixtus V, it has led to the current.
This obelisk is 23.2 meters high (*1), 32.77 meters high (*2) with the pedestal. It weights about 235 tons. (*3)
(*1) The Complete Temples of Ancient Egypt, Richard H. Wilkinson.
(*2) The Obelisks of Egypt, Labib Habachi.
(*3) The Obelisks of Egypt, Labib Habachi; Cleopatra's Needles and Other Egyptian Obelisks, E.A. Eallis Budge.

When the hill of the Pincio has been in place in 1816 - 1824, also carried out renovation of the Piazza del Popolo, The quadriceps of the Lion of the fountain located around the Obelisk was installed at that time.
There are inscriptions of the three rows on each side of the obelisk. Looking at the middle of the inscription, in south, north and west side of this obelisk, Horus name, coronation name and birth name of Seti I are on the face. But on east side, coronation name and birth name of Ramses II are carved on the surface instead of Seti I. So, the inscriptions on the east side were made by Ramses II.
In addition, coronation name and birth name of Ramses II were carved on the left side and the right side of the column in the four sides of the obelisk.
The inscriptions on south and west side are left in good condition. But the bottom of obelisk has been repaired.

Notes For Pictures:
Around the Piazza del Popolo are many tourists. Because there are attractions such as the Santa Maria del Popolo church. But shooting of the obelisk is easy because it has high pedestal part.
Photo of the east side was taken from Napoleon Square terrace on the east side of the hill of Piazza del Popolo. Since overlooking the obelisk, you can understand well the whole of the configuration of the plaza.

popolo_south.jpg
South Side

popolo_east.jpg
East Side

popolo_west.jpg
West Side

popolo_north.jpg
North Side

August 11, 2014    by Hiroyuki Nagase    (For high definition image, please click the picture)

Copyright Hiroyuki Nagase nagase@obelisk.org and Shoji Okamoto okamoto@obelisk.org