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Obelisk in Villa Medici

Present Site:  Villa Medici, Rome
N 41°54'31.8"(41.908839) E 12°28'59.5"(12.483182)
Pharaoh:  Replica
Measurement:  About 4.8 meters high for obelisk itself (Estimate)
[See description below]

About The Site:
"Villa Medici" means Medici family's house or suburban residence, and this is located in Rome. The Villa is on the southwest side of the Villa Borghese gardens (Villa Borghese) in Rome, on the way of Viale della Trinita dei Monti from the plaza, top of the Spanish Steps to the Pincian Hill (Monte Pincio).
This property was purchased in 1576 by Medici family who was a ruler of Duchy of Tuscany (Ducato di Toscana), intended to assert their ascendancy and the permanent presence in Rome. In this Villa Medici, ancient Roman-style artworks were displayed in the gardens. Ramses II Obelisk (Boboli Obelisk) was also displayed in the gardens of the Villa Medici, after this was excavated underground at near the Piazza della Minerva. After this, many artworks were transfered to Florence (Firenze) where is the home town of Medici family. The Obelisk was also transfered to Florence, Boboli Gardens (Giardini di Boboli) in 1790.

The Villa Medici, after the extinction of the Medici dynasty in 1737, was passed to Lorraine family who succeeded the Duchy of Tuscany. Then, after Napoleon Bonaparte invaded into Italy, he came into possession of the Villa Medici, and he transferred it to the French Academy in Rome in 1803. During World War II, in 1941, the Villa was briefly confiscated by Benito Mussolini, but it was returned to the French Academy in 1945, and continues to the present.

Obelisk in Villa Medici Obelisk in Villa Medici

How To Get There:
The entrance of Villa Medici's building faces on the street of Viale della Trinita dei Monti, which connects from the Sallustian Obelisk where is at the top of Spanish Steps, to the Pincian Hill, where Pincio Obelisk stands. The closest Metro station is Spagna on Line "A". After going up to the top of Spanish Steps, or Piazza di Trinità dei Monti, by an elevator, it's about 200 meters to the Villa.
The Villa Medici is not allowed to see by individuals freely. We have to participate in a guided tour with a scheduled start time and work in group. Since Villa Medici is owned by the French Academy, the guided tour is conducted mainly in French and the next is Italian. English tour is held only once a day, starting at 12 o'clock. Villa Medici's guided tour is held every day except Monday, and tickets can be purchased within the building of Villa Medici, and the reservation is unnecessary. Since the start time and number of tours other than English vary according to the season, please refer to the website of Villa Medici.

About The Obelisk:
As mentioned above, this obelisk is a replica [duplicate copy] of Ramses II Obelisk, which was here in the Villa Medici until 1790. After that obelisk was transfered to Florence, Boboli Gardens in 1790, its replica was erected again in the Villa Medici. Since it is said that the replica was made in the 19th century, it was probably ordered by the French Academy in Rome who is managing the Villa Medici since 1803. However, the source which verifies the fact was not found yet.

When comparing the inscriptions of the original obelisk and this replica, I found that the north side of the obelisk in Boboli Gardens is identical to the southeast side of Obelisk in Villa Medici. But it was not an easy way to make it by duplicating a mold, but I found that it was carefully made, engraving the same inscription on a red granite. Although I could not find the literature which recorded the size of this replica, but I estimate that is around 4.8 meters high, because this was faithfully reporduced the original obelisk.

Notes For Pictures:
Many tourists who have visited the Villa Medici will probably think that this obelisk is genuine unless the tourists hear the explanation on this replica. So, the Villa Medici's environment and exquisite replica match very naturally. When I visited this garden, the guide of my tour did not mention this is a replica, but I asked him "This is a replica, right?" when walikng in the gardens, then he answered with clarity "That's right, the original is in Boboli Gardens."
With regard to the pictures below, I made a caption that northwest, southwest, southeast and northeast, since the front of Villa Medici faces southwest, and this obelisk also shifts considerably from the accurate north, south, east, west directions.

Northwest side

Southwest side

Southeast side

Northeast side

May 3, 2016    by Hiroyuki Nagase    (For high definition image, please click the picture)

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