The Luxor Obelisk: A Piece of Egypt in The Heart of Paris

Ian Treger is a student at Washington and Lee University and an ISA Featured Blogger. He is studying abroad with ISA in Paris, France.

The Luxor Obelisk at night- the lighting makes the hieroglyphs, which wrap around all four sides, clearly visible.

Paris is widely known as the city of lights or the city of love. While I agree with both these nicknames, I also believe the city should be called the city of monuments. Paris is full of iconic monuments: the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe to name just a few. Notre Dame and other beautiful landmarks highlight the Parisian skyline.

My favorite monument in Paris is lesser known, but still located in a hub of the center of Paris, by Place de la Concord. Interestingly enough, it is not Parisian or even French; this monument, the Luxor Obelisk, is actually Egyptian.

Ramses II the Great (1279-1213) B.C.) created two obelisks during his reign; the Luxor Obelisk and a second that France did not have the funds to bring to France. For some reference- an obelisk is a stone pillar which typically ends in a triangular point, set up as a monument or landmark.  The Luxor Obelisk, along with its sister, were the largest commanded by Ramses II. The Luxor Obelisk arrived in France on May of 1833. That year on October 25, ( which happens to be my birthday- another reason I like this monument!) the obelisk was raised. Louis Philippe, the “le roi bourgeois,” reigned during the installation of this monument.

Wrapped around the obelisk are scenes detailing historical events in Egyptian hieroglyphics. At the bottom of the Luxor Obelisk are four baboons raising their paws, a symbol of adoring the sun. The Obelisk is capped in a gold point which reflects the sun. This monument is on the Voie Triomphale, the triumphal way, an axis of monuments that starts at the Louvre and extends to the Arc de Triomphe and the Grand Arche, which also incorporates the Luxor Obelisk.

My favorite monument and I.

Even though it is unorthodox to be living in Paris and have my favorite monument be Egyptian, Obelisks are my favorite piece of architectural achievement. I also think that the Obelisk is a prime example of the diverse cultures and histories that you can find in Paris. I was therefore extremely excited to stumble across this monument while on a walk to the Louvre. Standing next to the Luxor Obelisk, trying to decipher the secrets hidden behind its hieroglyphs, and staring at the long line of monuments around it has been one of my favorite moments in Paris so far.

The world awaits…discover it.

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