Route: THE FASCINATION OF THE CLASSICS. GOETHE AND CANOVA
Piazza Montecitorio Always visible. On 3 September…
You are along the route: EGYPT THE EMPIRE THE POPES. THE CITY OF OBELISKS
The red granite obelisk, higher than 21 m and today in Piazza Montecitorio, had once been erected in the Egyptian city of Heliopolis by Pharaoh Psammetichus II, in the sixth century BC. It was the second to be brought to Rome by the Emperor Augustus, after that of the Circus Maximus, and had been placed in the Campus Martius, to serve as the gnomon of a huge sundial – the Solarium Augusti – with the obelisk projecting its shadow on it.
It remained intact until the ninth century. Pope Benedict XIV, who managed to unearth it in 1748, ordered the obelisk to be moved together with the base to Piazza Montecitorio in 1792. The bronze perforated globe was placed at its summit with the intention, never satisfied, of returning the monolith to its original function as a sundial.
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