Where to Find the Obelisks in Rome (+ Unique Facts!)

Rome, the Eternal City, is a treasure trove of ancient wonders where every corner steeped in history and mystery. It’s by far one of my favourite places to visit and every time we go, there’s something new to learn!

There are many architectural marvels dotted throughout ancient Rome, and did you know that you can find obelisks throughout the city?

In fact, there are 13 of them!

These monumental obelisks in Rome, with their intricate inscriptions and imposing presence, serve as reminders of Rome’s glorious past. Join me as we take a journey to discover the 13 remarkable obelisks scattered across the heart of Rome (complete with where to find them)!

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Why are there Obelisks in Rome?

Obelisks in Rome, as well as in other parts of the world, were originally in ancient Egypt. They were typically constructed as tall, four-sided pillars with a pyramid-shaped cap at the top.

Obelisks served various purposes in ancient Egypt, including marking significant locations like temples or tombs, honouring pharaohs or gods, and acting as astronomical instruments.

During the Roman Empire, many obelisks were brought from Egypt to Rome as spoils of war or as gifts from Egyptian rulers. These obelisks were often placed in prominent locations, such as public squares or near important buildings, to demonstrate the power and prestige of Rome.

Some Roman emperors had obelisks erected in Rome to commemorate military victories or other significant events.

Over time, some obelisks in Rome were moved to different locations or repurposed by various rulers.

Nowadays you can find several ancient Egyptian obelisks still standing in Rome.

obelisks in rome

But why are there so many Obelisks in Rome?

13 seems like a pretty big number considering the distance away from Egypt, and the work involved in transporting them to Rome!

Rome has a significant number of obelisks due to the conquests of the Roman Empire and its fascination with ancient Egyptian culture. Roman emperors, especially during the Imperial period, brought many obelisks from Egypt to Rome to decorate their city and demonstrate their power and wealth.

The Roman emperors often saw themselves as inheritors of the grandeur of ancient civilizations like Egypt, and the presence of obelisks served to emphasize this connection. 

During the Renaissance period, there was a renewed interest in classical antiquity, including Egyptian culture. This led to further fascination with obelisks, and some were even excavated and re-erected in Rome during this time.

Did you know that Rome boasts one of the largest collections of ancient Egyptian obelisks outside of Egypt itself?! We didn’t expect to see them during our first trip to Rome, and we were immediately intrigued (and impressed!) by their stature. 

obelisks in rome

Where to Find the Obelisks in Rome

Visiting Rome and want to see some obelisks? Fortunately, since many of these are in popular, well trafficked areas, there’s a good chance you’ll see a view during your time here!

The best part is, seeing all the obelisks is entirely free, so if you’re visiting Rome on a budget, you’re in luck!

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1. Obelisco Flaminio (Piazza del Popolo)

Our journey begins in Piazza del Popolo, where the Obelisco Flaminio reigns supreme. This ancient Egyptian obelisk, standing at over 24 metres tall, was brought to Rome by Emperor Augustus in 10 BC and originally erected in the Circus Maximus.

Later, it found its current home in Piazza del Popolo, adorning the centre of the bustling square.

Obelisco Flaminio obelisks in rome

2. Obelisco Sallustiano (Piazza Trinità dei Monti)

Nestled atop the Spanish Steps in Piazza Trinità dei Monti stands the Obelisco Sallustiano.

This elegant obelisk, also known as the Sallustian Obelisk, once graced the Gardens of Sallust and was later moved to its present location by Pope Pius VI in the late 18th century.

Obelisco Sallustiano Spanish Steps

3. Obelisco Esquilino (Piazza dell’Esquilino)

Venturing to Piazza dell’Esquilino, you’ll find the Obelisco Esquilino, a towering monument that has stood witness to Rome’s tumultuous history.

Originally erected in Egypt during the reign of Pharaoh Psammetichus II, it was brought to Rome by Emperor Augustus and placed in the Temple of Isis.

Obelisco Esquilino

4. Obelisco Lateranense (Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano)

In the heart of Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano stands the Obelisco Lateranense, the largest standing ancient Egyptian obelisk in the world!

Standing at an impressive height of over 32 metres, this grand obelisk was originally commissioned by Pharaoh Thutmose III and later brought to Rome by Emperor Constantius II in the 4th century AD.

Obelisco Lateranense

5. Obelisco Vaticano (St. Peter’s Square)

Dominating the iconic St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City is the Obelisco Vaticano, a monumental structure that symbolizes the enduring influence of ancient Egypt on Roman culture.

This majestic obelisk, standing over 25 metres tall, was originally erected at Heliopolis by an unknown pharaoh and later transported to Rome by Emperor Caligula.

Obelisco Vaticano obelisks in rome
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6. Obelisco Macuteo (Piazza della Rotonda)

Our next stop takes us to Piazza della Rotonda, where the majestic Pantheon stands guard over the Obelisco Macuteo.

Also known as the Matidia Obelisk, this ancient structure was erected during the reign of Ramses II and later moved to its current location by Pope Clement XI in the 18th century.

Obelisco Macuteo

7. Obelisco Agonale (Piazza Navona)

In the heart of Piazza Navona stands the Obelisco Agonale, a magnificent monument that adds to the splendor of this iconic square.

Originally erected by Emperor Domitian in the 1st century AD, this obelisk was later reassembled by Pope Innocent X in the 17th century.

Psst! Piazza Navona is one of the most peaceful areas in Rome in the early morning. Grab some breakfast from a bakery nearby and sit and enjoy the ambiance!

Obelisco Agonale

8. Obelisco Pinciano (Piazza San Paolo)

Standing tall in Piazza San Paolo is the Obelisco Pinciano, a majestic structure that adds to the allure of Rome’s vibrant streets.

This ancient obelisk, also known as the Monte Pincio Obelisk, was originally erected in Heliopolis and later brought to Rome by Emperor Augustus.

Obelisco Pinciano

9. Obelisco del Quirinale (Piazza del Quirinale)

Adorning the elegant surroundings of Piazza del Quirinale is the Obelisco del Quirinale, a testament to the grandeur of Rome’s imperial past.

Standing at over 14 metres tall, this magnificent obelisk was brought to Rome by Pope Pius VI in the late 18th century.

Obelisco del Quirinale

10. Obelisco di Villa Celimontana (Villa Celimontana)

Nestled within the tranquil confines of Villa Celimontana stands the Obelisco di Villa Celimontana, a serene retreat from the hustle and bustle of Rome’s streets.

This ancient obelisk, also known as the Matteiano Obelisk, was originally erected during the reign of Ramses II and later moved to its current location by Emperor Domitian.

Obelisco di Villa Celimontana

11. Obelisco di Montecitorio (Piazza di Montecitorio)

In the heart of Piazza di Montecitorio stands the Obelisco di Montecitorio, a majestic monument that pays homage to Rome’s rich history.

This elegant obelisk, standing at over 21 metres tall, was originally erected in Heliopolis and later brought to Rome by Emperor Augustus.

Obelisco di Montecitorio
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12. Obelisco dell’Elefante (Piazza della Minerva)

Surrounded by the splendour of Bernini’s elephant sculpture, the Obelisco dell’Elefante stands tall in Piazza della Minerva.

This ancient obelisk, also known as the Bernini Obelisk, was originally erected by Pharaoh Apries and later brought to Rome by Emperor Diocletian.

We stayed right by this one during our last visit and it quickly became one of my favourites. It’s not the grandest, but I loved the elephant at the base!

Obelisco dell'Elefante

13. Obelisco Dogali (Giardini Einaudi)

Our final destination brings us to Obelisco Dogali. This is probably Rome’s most overlooked obelisk as it’s found near a main road intersection and Termini train station.

It is originally from Helipolis in Egypt and one a pair, with the second now in the Boboli Gardens in Florence.

After being lost at an unknown point, it was rediscovered in 1884 and erected in its current position in honor of fallen Italian soldiers in 1924. While there isn’t much information out there about this obelisk in Rome, it’s known to be from the period of Pharaoh Rameses ii and stands approximately 2.74 metres tall (and with the base, closer to 6.34 metres.

obelisco dogali obelisks in rome

Rome’s Obelisks

So there you have it! Rome is home to so much fascinating history.

Whether standing proud in bustling squares or nestled within tranquil gardens, the obelisks of Rome continue to captivate and inspire visitors from around the world, inviting them to unravel the mysteries of the Eternal City.

Be sure to stop and marvel at some of these obelisks during your time in my favourite city! Let me know your favourite one – leave a comment below!  

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