After Cleopatra, the "last Pharaoh," committed suicide, Rome took control of Egypt in 30 BCE. The Lateran Obelisk in Rome's Lateran Square is the biggest standing and tallest Egyptian obelisk, towering 105.6 feet (32.2 m) tall and weighing a total of 455 metric tons (502 short tons). It was originally transported there from its site in Cairo by Nile boats.
The word "obelisk" comes from the Greek oberon, which means "all-powerful." These huge statues were once surrounded by circles of 64 smaller stones, but now only 12 remain. The original obelisks were made of granite, but many later ones are made of red sandstone or black basalt.
In 1538, an Italian named Girolamo Magni ordered two giant obelisks to be built in Rome for the Pamphilj family as a gift for their court. One of them still stands in the Roman garden at Palazzo Pamphilj, while the other was taken to France where it stands in the Parc de la Défense in Paris.
The word "magnus" is Latin for "great" or "grand" and these obelisks are great monuments to show off the power of their owners. They were originally decorated with images of the Pharaohs who had raised them, but now just their shapes remain.
THE WASHINGTON MONUMENT IS THE WORLD'S TALLEST OBELISK. The Washington Monument was planned in 1832 and took decades to complete. It is the highest building in the District of Columbia by law, and it is double the height of any other obelisk in the world. Gordon observes that it is unusual among Washington memorials. It is not dedicated to a person but instead is an example of neoclassical architecture. The monument's upper portion is made of white marble from Carrara, Italy, and its base is composed of dark grey Libyan sandstone.
In addition to being an impressive architectural object in itself, the Washington Monument serves as a marker for true north. The top of the monument is aligned with celestial north, while the bottom is aligned with terrestrial north. Thus, the entire structure is designed to be sensitive to the movement of the earth around its axis so that it can serve as a guide for travelers across land or sea.
The Washington Monument is estimated to have cost $15 million ($150 million in today's dollars). It was paid for by federal funds granted by Congress for the specific purpose of constructing a monument to George Washington. Its construction was supervised by the military during the period from 1829 to 1848, when it was under the direction of Joseph Henry, who had also superintended its design. When it was completed, the monument was regarded as one of the most outstanding achievements of American engineering and architecture. Today, it is considered a classic example of Victorian-era architecture.
An obelisk is a four-sided, tall, thin structure that tapers toward the top and finishes in a pyramid. It is the highest building in Washington, D.C., the tallest stone structure in the globe, and the tallest obelisk in the world. It is made of marble, granite, and bluestone gneiss. The exact height of the Washington Monument is 360 feet (110 m), but it has been estimated that when it was built, the apex of the pyramid topped with a statue of Lincoln reached nearly 400 feet above the city.
The base of the monument is about the same size as the Statue of Liberty. It weighs around 18,000 tons, and its construction required over 20,000 man hours. The cost of the monument was $150,000 ($1.5 million in today's money).
It took more than 20 years to complete the project. French artist Jean Baptiste Michelangelo Buonarroti Simoni completed the first version of the monument in 1848 at the age of 26. But because he died before it was finished, his brother Vincenzo continued the work, adding another section on the other side. So in total, the monument consists of three sections, or tiers. The upper part is called the Capitoline Hill Memorial which was added by Vincenzo Simoni in 1855.