Vaticano Obelisk

"Many passed between the ground and the towering base thinking it a saintly thing."

— Pedro Tafur, Andanças, circa 1440

Builder: Unknown
Year of Arrival:
Height: 41 m
Location: Saint Peter's Square

Originally raised in the Forum Iulium in Alexandria by the prefect Cornelius Gallus on Augustus's orders around 30–28 BC, the obelisk was brought to Rome by Caligula in 40 for the spina of the Vatican Circus.

Later relocated by Pope Sixtus V in 1586, using a method devised by Domenico Fontana; it is the first monumental obelisk raised in the modern period, and is the only obelisk in Rome that has not toppled since Roman times.

During the Middle Ages, the gilt ball on top of the obelisk was believed to contain the ashes of Julius Caesar. Fontana later removed the ancient metal ball, now in one of Rome's museums, that stood atop the obelisk and found only dust.

Vaticano Obelisk
Saint Peter's Square
Roma, RM 00120 IT