Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Vatican Obelisk

St. Peter's Basilica showing the location of the obelisk
     While in Rome last month, we of course visited the Vatican. We decided to do the Vatican Museum before going into the Basilica itself to see Michelangelo's "Pieta".

     I had three things on my list of must sees at the Vatican Museum, the Raphael paintings, the Sistine Chapel and the Egyptian collection. The museum was so crowded that I never found the Egyptian art! We could barely move during the visit because of the crowds. So I have now made two visits to the Vatican (about 40 years apart), and still have not seen the Egyptian art housed there.
The Vatican Obelisk

     Then we went over to St. Peter's Basilica. I managed to get some photos of the obelisk in front of the basilica before the heavens opened up and let down a torrential downpour.

     The obelisk itself is rather unusual in that it has no inscriptions. It was raised in Alexandria at the order of the Roman Emperor Augustus. Later, it was transported to Rome by Caligula. During the Medieval Period, the metal ball near the top of the obelisk was thought to contain the ashes of Julius Caesar. A careful examination of the contents of the ball only found dust.

Photos Copyright (c) 2013 by John Freed

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