Cleopatra's Needle

New York, United States

Cleopatra's Needle in New York City is one of three similarly named Egyptian obelisks. The 15th-century BC stele was installed in Central Park, west of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan, on February 22, 1881. It was secured in May 1877 by judge Elbert E. Farman, the United States Consul General at Cairo, as a gift from the Khedive for the United States remaining a friendly neutral as the European powers – France and Britain – maneuvered to secure political control of the Egyptian government. The transportation costs were largely paid for by railroad magnate William Henry Vanderbilt, the eldest son of Cornelius Vanderbilt.

Made of red granite, the obelisk stands about 21 metres high, weighs about 200 tons, and is inscribed with Egyptian hieroglyphs. It was originally erected in the Egyptian city of Heliopolis on the orders of Thutmose III, in 1475 BC. The granite was brought from the quarries of Aswan near the first cataract of the Nile. The inscriptions were added about 200 years later by Ramesses II to commemorate his military victories. The obelisks were moved to Alexandria and set up in the Caesareum, a temple built by Cleopatra in honor of Mark Antony or Julius Caesar, by the Romans in 12 BC, during the reign of Augustus, but were toppled some time later. This had the fortuitous effect of burying their faces and so preserving most of the hieroglyphs from the effects of weathering.



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Founded: 1881
Category: Statues in United States

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User Reviews

M L (2 years ago)
We saw this on our way to the MET. It's free and worth a stop, especially if you're in the area. If you don't want to go to the MET, or don't have time, this is a good way to see a piece of ancient history right in the park.
IG AlePendiente (2 years ago)
Well preserved Egyptian obelisk, also named Cleopatra’s needle although it predates her time and life. In the 1870s the Egyptians gave in adoption this granite gentle child to a city that has yet understood it. It is the oldest public monument in the city. It sits in a hill both conspicuous and discreet, surrounded by flower trees, best enjoyed at night.
Brandon Barrett (2 years ago)
Fascinating monument I didn't realize was right in Central Park. This ancient obelisk was relocated to New York from Egypt and is the oldest man made object in New York. There is a plaque with a translation of the hieroglyphic inscription.
A.C. Antonelli (2 years ago)
Most don’t realize as they casually jog by, but the obelisk that stands before you is not a reproduction. This obelisk, one of two of “Cleopatra’s Needles,” was commissioned by Pharaoh Thutmose III in 1425 BCE for the Temple of the Sun in Heliopolis, near modern-day Cairo. It was later found toppled and half-buried, along with its sister obelisk, by the Romans in 12 BCE, who transported it to Alexandria and placed it at the entrance to a temple built by Cleopatra and dedicated to Julius Caesar. In the 1870s, the two obelisks were gifted — one to England and one to the US — by the Egyptian government. This one was installed here in Central Park in 1881. So then. As you pass by, take a minute to slow down and contemplate that this monolith has seen more history than all of us.
Mukta Singh (2 years ago)
Rich historical monument. It is important to note that the inscriptions engraved on the needle, are translated and placed in a plaque close to it.A remarkable piece of history , it is the part of another pair of ancient Egyptian obelisk. Re- erected one in London and another in New York City. This one is in NYC is said to be erected in central Park in the year1881. Definitely a must visit place at central Park.
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