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Cleopatra’s Needle

Cleopatra’s Needle (64)

The store of the obelisk called Cleopatra’s Needle is worthy of any tale of Egyptian curses. This monolith of pink granite on Victoria Embankment, on the banks of the Thames, suffered all kinds of mishaps from when it was given to Great Britain by the Viceroy of Egypt in 1819 until being placed in its current location in 1878.

Erected in 1500 BC in the Egyptian city of Heliopolis, it was given by Viceroy Mohammed Ali to the British in recognition of the victory of Admiral Nelson against the French in the Battle of the Nile. Great Britain accepted this monument from the period of the Pharoah Tuthmosis III as a gift, but it remained in the city of Alexandria until 1877 when the doctor Erasmus Wilson decided to fund its transfer to London.

It almost got lost during a terrible storm the expedition suffered in the Bay of Biscay, but finally reached its destination. The monument, 21 metres high, is flanked by two modern bronze sphinxes as well as by urban furnishing decorated with Egyptian motifs. To crown this tale of disasters, the obelisk suffered imperfections during the first German bombings of the city of London in 1917. These holes of shrapnel are conserved to commemorate these events that took place during the First World War.  

In New York, in the middle of Central Park, there is a twin obelisk of Cleopatra’s Needle that was given by Egypt to the United States and was erected in the park in 1881.

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