Short description

The Luxor Obelisk, a symbol of goodwill from Mehemet Ali, Viceroy of Egypt, was presented to King Charles X and France in 1830 at the suggestion of Baron Taylor and Jean-François Champollion. This generous gift included two obelisks from Luxor Temple, with one remaining in Egypt until its official return in 1981.
In exchange, Louis-Philippe 1er offered a non-functional copper clock to the Citadel of Cairo in 1845.
The Luxor Obelisk, originally erected during the Rameses II dynasty in the 13th century BC, was transported to Paris on a specially built ship, the Louxor, in a perilous journey from 1831 to 1834.
Erected on October 25, 1836, in the middle of Concord Square, the 23-meter, 222-ton obelisk aligns with the historic axis of Paris. Designated a Historic Monument in 1937, it rests on a 240-ton stone base from Brittany, while hieroglyphics on its faces include the cartouche of Rameses II.
The obelisk's summit features a sparkling pyramidion covered in bronze and gold leaf, installed in May 1998, replacing a previous ornament lost during invasions in Egypt in the 6th century.

Localisation
  • Obélisque de Louxor, Place de la Concorde, Paris, 75008, France

Open hours

No closing time

Access

Place de la Concorde
75008 PARIS
Position GPS : GPS : 48° 51′ 80″ Nord - 2° 19′ 22″ Est

  • Métro : lines 1, 8, 12 (Station Concorde)
  • RER : Line A : Station Charles de Gaulle/Étoile - Line C : Station Invalides
  • Bus : 24, 42, 72, 73, 84, 94
  • Parking : Jardin des Tuileries et Carrousel
    (accès par le quai des Tuileries ou la rue de Rivoli)
    Rue du Mont-Thabor, rue des Pyramides
  • Stations Vélib' : 119, rue de Lille - 2, rue Cambon
Address

Obélisque de Louxor
Place de la Concorde
75008 Paris

Coordinates Latitude Longitude
Sexagesimal (°, ', ") 48° 51′ 56″ N 2° 19′ 16″ E
Degré décimal (GPS) 48.86549 2.32119
Full description

Luxor obelisk: a gift from Mehmet Ali, Viceroy of Egypt

Luxor obelisk was a gift, as a sign of good understanding with Mehemet Ali and at the instigation of Baron Taylor and Jean-François Champollion (1790-1832 - the first to translate the hieroglyphics). Mehemet Ali offered(1) it to king Charles X and France at the beginning of 1830. In fact, the gift includes the 2 obelisks erected in front of Luxor Temple. The second obelisk, which remained in place, was recently officially returned to Egypt by President François Mitterrand on September 26, 1981.

(1) In exchange for the obelisks, Louis-Philippe 1er offered in 1845 a copper clock that today adorns the citadel of Cairo. For the anecdote, it never worked, at least according to the Cairoites, having probably been damaged during delivery.

The builders of the Luxor Obelisk

This obelisk, with its twin that remained in Egypt, stood at the entrance to Luxor Temple during the reign of the Rameses II dynasty. This was in the 13th century BC.

Note: The west face (currently facing south-southwest) is crisscrossed by a crack up to a third of the way up, which has been consolidated since antiquity by means of two dovetails.

Transporting the Obelisk from Luxor to Paris

A ship, specially built was chartered for this purpose, the Louxor, commanded by Raymond de Verninac Saint-Maur. It was a flat-bottomed, single-use barge of unusual construction (five keels, removable bow) whose dimensions were studied according to the bridges on the Seine.

The ship left Toulon in April 1831. It goes up the Nile in August. The ship embarks the monolith in December after the construction of a canal to get close to the obelisk. The ship goes back down the Nile in August 1832, playing with the flood level of the river.

The ship was towed by the steam and sail corvette Sphinx on the Alexandria - Rouen route, via Toulon. Back to Toulon in May 1833, it arrived in Paris in August 1834 after having circumnavigated Spain and sailed up the Seine from Rouen after a stopover in Cherbourg. The Louxor obelisk was then dropped off lying on the quay at the beginning of Cours-la-Reine street.

Erection of the Obelisk on October 25, 1836, in the middle of the Concord Square

The erection of the Luxor obelisk with great pomp was a perilous operation carried out on October 25, 1836. The obelisk is aligned with the historic axis of Paris, which runs from the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel (in the Jardin des Tuileries - Voir article) to the Arche de la Défense, via the Tuileries Gardens, the Avenue des Champs-Élysées and the Arc de Triomphe on the Place de l'Etoile Charles de Gaulle.

The Luxor Obelisk is 23 meters high and weighs 222 tons. It is made of syenite, a pink granite found in abundance around Aswan in Egypt.

The obelisk was listed as a Historic Monument in 1937.

The stone base is from Brittany, western France, not Egypt

We must add the 240 tons of the pedestal made of pink granite blocks from Aber-Ildut, a quarry in Brittany at the west of France (originally intended for the erection of a statue of Louis XVI). Two of its faces show the removal, transportation, and reassembly of the Obelisk, the other two bear an inscription recalling the patronage of the project by King Louis Philippe and alluding to the Egyptian commitment of France since Napoleon 1er.

Hieroglyphics on the faces of the Obelisk

Among the hieroglyphics on each side is the cartouche of Rameses II, where the king makes an offering to the god Amen-Ra.

For a full translation of the hiéroglyphics of the Louxor Obelisc on Place de la Concord, click on F. CHABAS (Translation made in 1868)

The Pyramid atop the Obelisk

The top of this Luxor obelisk is surmounted by a pyramidion (a pyramidal element crowning the top of a pyramid and more generally of a monument such as an obelisk), as sharp as it is sparkling, 3.60 m high, covered with bronze and gold leaf. This covering, installed in May 1998, after some hesitation and at the insistence of the Egyptologist Christiane Desroches Noblecourt, is supposed to replace a previous summit ornament that was taken away during invasions in Egypt in the 6th century.

A sundial or an Obelisk?

The obelisk also serves as a sundial: Roman numerals and lines are traced on the ground by metal inlays in the center of the Place de la Concorde.

Static Code
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  • July 24, 2024 8:59 am local time

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