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The Louxor Obelisk

December 12th, 2019 · 1 min read

When visiting Paris, you can’t miss the Louxor Obelisk.

It is the oldest monument in Paris. It dates from 1298 BC. It was sponsored by Ramses II (XIXth dynasty). 23 meters high and weighing 230 tons, it is made of syenite, a magmatic rock. It is covered with medu neter inscriptions, or hieroglyphs, that tell the story of Ramses II and Ramses III. Its pyramidal top is covered with gold leaf.

For the ancient Egyptians, the obelisk was the symbol of a sunbeam, as a tribute to Amon, their only god. They went in pairs, and adorned the entrance to the temples, palaces and royal tombs.

Originally it was in Egypt, in front of the Luxor Temple in Thebes

The Obelisk is located on Place de la Concorde, opposite the Tuileries Garden and not far from the Louvre Museum. It was installed there in 1836, but originally it was in Egypt, in front of the Luxor Temple in Thebes, next to a second obelisk. The viceroy of Egypt Mehemet Ali offered them to France, but only one was brought back to Paris, given the difficulty of transporting such a building.

The Luxor Temple
The Luxor Temple in Egypt - © Ad Meskens / Wikimedia Commons

Vintage plates and drawings relating to the slaughter and transport of the obelisk from Egypt can be found at the National Maritime Museum in Paris.

Part of the base of the obelisk is exposed at the Louvre. It is a fragment of baboons standing on their hind legs. The base in place today was made in France, and traces the stages of transport and erection of the monument in Paris.

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