#1 pick - Obelisco Vaticano Tour
- â˜‘ Prime spot to see the pope
- â˜‘ Expert guide explanations via audio headset
- â˜‘ Small group experience (20 people max)
- â˜‘ English/Spanish speaking guide (select your option at checkout)
- â˜‘ Duration: 3 hours 30 minutes
- âï¸Rating: NA (new Viator tour)
Main Topics of Obelisco Vaticano: Why Is There an Obelisk in the Vatican?
- The Vatican Obelisk Inscription
- Obelisco Vaticano Facts & History
- Why Is There an Obelisk in the Vatican?
- How To Find Obelisco Vaticano in Rome?
- Which Is the Best Time To Visit Obelisco Vaticano?
Unlike the Flaminio Obelisk and Obelisco Agonale, the Vatican Obelisk has no hieroglyphs carved into the red granite it is made of. I didn’t even considered it as being of Egyptian origin when I first saw it during my visit to Rome.
The Vatican Obelisk Inscription
Even though there’s no inscription on the surface of the actual monument, Obelisco Vaticano stands on a pedestal that bears the several inscriptions on each of its four sides. All of these inscriptions are in Latin. You can search for their translation on Google, that’s an easy task.
Obelisco Vaticano Inscription on the East Face
ECCE CRVX DOMINI
DE TRIBV IVDA
Obelisco Vaticano Inscription on the West Face
CHRISTVS AB OMNI MALO
Obelisco Vaticano Inscription on the North Face
SIXTVS V PONT MAX
AB IMPVRA SVPERSTITIONE
ET FELICIVS CONSECRAVIT
ANNO MDLXXXVI PONT II
Obelisco Vaticano Inscription on the South Face
SIXTVS V PONT MAX
IMPIO CVLTV DICATVM
AD APOSTOLORVM LIMINA
OPEROSO LABORE TRANSTVLIT
ANNO MDLXXXVI PONT II
Obelisco Vaticano Facts & History
The Obelisco Vaticano, also known as the Vatican Obelisk, is one of the most iconic monuments located in St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City. This 25.5 meter tall ancient Egyptian obelisk dates back over 3,000 years and was originally erected in the Egyptian city of Heliopolis on the orders of Pharaoh Thutmose III around 1450 BC.
This Egyptian obelisk was brought from Egypt to Rome in 37 AD and moved to its current location in 1586 AD by order of Pope Sixtus V. Later on, the famous architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini redesigned St. Peter’s Square, making sure to seamlessly integrate the Egyptian obelisk into this new design of the holy place.
Why Is There an Obelisk in the Vatican?
The presence of this ancient Egyptian obelisk in the very heart of the Catholic Church in Vatican City intrigues many visitors. It has surely intrigued me, as that was one of the last things I would have expected to find in San Pietro’s Square in Rome.
Why is there an obelisk standing tall right in front of St. Peter’s Basilica? What is the history and significance behind this monument that predates Christianity? Read on to learn more about the history, symbolism, and meaning behind the Vatican Obelisk.
The Vatican Obelisk stands tall among the iconic columns of Bernini’s Colonnade in St. Peter’s Square. This ancient granite obelisk was originally constructed in the 15th century BC in Heliopolis, Egypt. It was moved to the Julian Forum in Rome in 37 AD and has been relocated several times throughout history before finally being erected in St. Peter’s Square in 1586.
How To Find Obelisco Vaticano in Rome?
Visitors to the Vatican can easily find the obelisk right in the center of St. Peter’s Square, which is located directly in front of St. Peter’s Basilica. Even though St. Peter’s square belongs to the State of Vatican, access to the square is free, thanks to a treaty between Italy and Vatican that grants Italian police the authority to manage the square and control the crowds.
St. Peter’s Square is accessible via the Vatican City subway stop Ottaviano-San Pietro on Line A. Upon emerging from the metro station, visitors will find themselves facing the iconic columns of the Colonnade. Walking between the columns towards the basilica, one cannot miss the 25.5 meter red granite obelisk towering above the central oval pavement of the square.
Which Is the Best Time To Visit Obelisco Vaticano?
The best times to see the obelisk are during the Papal Audience which takes place on Wednesdays at 10:30am when St. Peter’s Square bustles with pilgrims hoping to see an appearance by the Pope.
That would allow you to enjoy not only the views but also the spiritual experience of The Pope imparting his Apostolic Blessing upon the crowd.
If you prefer to see Piazza San Pietro and Obelisco Vaticano without having to put up with the crowds, get there early, before 8 am. The evening can also be an interesting option, particularly if you’re into night photography.
Before you go, check out my other article about the best places to stay in Rome. Pick a hotel that’s close to the Vatican. You can’t go wrong, as you’ll be close not only to Obelisco Vaticano but also to Castel Sant’Angelo and many other famous landmarks of Rome.
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