Cleopatra's needle

An authentic Egyptian obelisk.

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Three needles

There are three obelisks named ' Cleopatra's needle '. The first was installed in Paris, the other two are located in New York's Central Park and on the Embankment in London. The obelisks in London and New York are both coming from the same place in Heliopolis, Egypt.

From Egypt to London

The obelisk was donated in 1819 to London by Mehemet Ali, the then Viceroy of Egypt. The monument remained over the next sixty years in Alexandria because the British Government couldn't afford to pay for the removal of it.

It took ten thousand pounds to transport the Cleopatra's needle to London. The astronomical costs were borne by the anatomist and philanthropist William James Erasmus Wilson. However, the obelisk capsized during a storm in the Bay of Biscay on road to London. Cleopatra's needle, London the obelisk during this incident six crew members were killed. A plaque on the obelisk commemorates this incident. However, the obelisk was dredged up and brought to Spain for refurbishment after which it eventually arrived in London in 1878.

The obelisk

The monument's made of red granite and it's twenty-one meters high. The one hundred and eighty-ton obelisk comes from the ancient city of Heliopolis and was supposed to be around the year 1450 BC established in command of Pharaoh Thutmose III.

In the monument are Egyptian hieroglyphics carved, that according to experts some two hundred years later have been added by Ramses II in honor of his military victories.

Two bronze copies of Egyptian Sphinxes flanking the obelisk. The two Sphinxes are actually wrong. They look in the direction of the obelisk of the obelisk while they are supposed to look away so to guard against enemies.

Cleopatra's needle was restored in 2005, but you can still observe the damage to one of the sockets of the Sphinxes, caused by a bomb that was dropped during the first world war, during an air attack by the Germans.

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Address : Victoria Embankment, WC2

Metro : Embankment (Circle, District, Northern, Bakerloo)