Luxor Obelisk

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The Obelisk of Luxor at the centre of the Place de la Concorde

The Luxor Obelisk (French: Obélisque de Louxor) is a 23 metres (75 ft) high Ancient Egyptian obelisk standing at the centre of the Place de la Concorde in Paris, France. It was originally located at the entrance to Luxor Temple, in Egypt. The Luxor Obelisk was classified as a historical monument in 1936.

This site was the location of the metro station, Concorde.


Sphinx towing the barge Louqsor ferrying the Luxor Obelisk to France

The Luxor Obelisk is over 3,000 years old and was originally situated outside of Luxor Temple, where its twin remains to this day. It first arrived in Paris on 21 December 1833, having been shipped from Luxor via Alexandria and Cherbourg,[1] and three years later, on 25 October 1836, was moved to the centre of Place de la Concorde by King Louis-Phillipe. It was given to France by Muhammad Ali Pasha, Ruler of Ottoman Egypt in exchange for a French mechanical clock.

In August 1832, the French paddle ship Sphinx sailed to Alexandria to rendezvous there with the barge Louqsor, which was to load the Luxor Obelisk and bring it to Paris. Sphinx then towed Louqsor back to France. The ships departed on 1 April 1833 and reached Toulon on 10 May. The ships arrived at Cherbourg on 12 August 1833.

After the Obelisk was taken, the mechanical clock provided in exchange was discovered to be faulty, having probably been damaged during transport. The worthless clock still exists to this day in a clocktower in Egypt, and is still not working.


Detail of the pedestal
The remaining obelisk at Luxor Temple Pylon

The obelisk, a yellow granite column, rises 23 metres (75 ft) high, including the base, and weighs over 250 metric tons (280 short tons). It is decorated with hieroglyphs exalting the reign of the king Ramses II.

Given the technical limitations of the day, transporting it was no easy feat: The French government ordered a purpose-built seagoing freighter built by the Toulon naval yard; this 49 metres long, flat bottomed, three masted ship named the Louqsor was sailed up the Nile to Luxor where 300 workmen dug a canal to allow the ship to come close to the obelisk. The French seamen then lowered the obelisk with an array of blocks and tackles, yardarms and capstans. The re-erection of the obelisk on the Place de la Concorde during a ceremony carefully planned by King Louis-Philippe I was not an easy engineering feat either. This successful French transport operation predates the eventful transport of "Cleopatra's Needle" by the British by more than thirty years.

The present day pedestal was originally intended for an equestrian statue of King Louis XVI by Cortot, which was destroyed during the July Revolution in 1830. On the pedestal are drawn diagrams explaining the complex machinery that was used for the transportation. The obelisk is flanked on both sides by fountains constructed at the time of its erection. The original Egyptian pedestal included the statues of sixteen fully sexed baboons and was deemed too obscene for public exhibition, it is displayed in the Egyptian section of the Musée du Louvre.[2]

Missing its original pyramidion (believed stolen in the 6th century BC), the government of France added a gold-leafed pyramid cap to the top of the obelisk in 1998.

Modern events[edit]

  • On the morning of 1 December 1993, the anti-AIDS Charity Act Up Paris [fr] covered the obelisk with a giant pink condom to mark World AIDS Day.[3][4]
  • In 1998 and 2000 Alain "Spiderman" Robert, the French urban climber, scaled the obelisk without the use of any ropes or other climbing equipment or safety devices.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Luxor Obelisk Monument In Paris France".
  2. ^ "Four baboons adoring the rising sun | Louvre Museum | Paris". Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  3. ^ " - Interviews en tout genre !". Archived from the original on 8 March 2009.
  4. ^

Coordinates: 48°51′56″N 2°19′16″E / 48.86556°N 2.32111°E / 48.86556; 2.32111