The Iconic Cleopatra’s Needle in London
With its historic landscapes, modern feel and cosmopolitan attitude London proves itself to be much more than just the host of the 2012 Summer Olympics. Radiating a confidence that is hardly rivalled this European mega city’s prominent status is enhanced by its glorious history.
Dubbed a ‘world in one city’ by residents and globe trotters, London’s present vibrance is both due to its past conquests and present significance as a melting pot of world cultures. A trip to the British capital is however amiss if one did not pay homage to the iconic remnants of its history such as the Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly Circus, St. Paul’s Cathedral and Trafalgar Square. But no other monument has captured the imagination and the wonder of locals and tourists alike as Cleopatra’s Needle in London. The British version of the Ancient Egyptian obelisks that are also found in New York and Paris is a whopping 68 feet in height and constructed with red granite from the Nile’s Aswan quarries. Bejeweled with ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs by Ramses the Second, the Needle was first erected in 1450 BC in Heliopolis in Egypt by Thutmose the Third. Once housed in an Alexandrian temple built by Queen Cleopatra as a tribute to Mark Anthony, it was later gifted to Britain by Egyptian ruler Muhammad Ali in 1819.
The Needle is now located on the Victoria Embankment in Westminster city close to the Embankment station and the Golden Jubilee Bridges. Flanked by two magnificent bronze Egyptian sphinxes, the inscription on the statues state “the good god, Thuthmosis III given life” in hieroglyphics. Another must-see attraction is the sturdy winged sphinxes on the bench armrests in the surrounding area.
With its idyllic location beside the Thames it is difficult to fathom the difficult journey it made on its way to London on a specially made cigar-shaped sea vessel which met with deadly storms and other calamities along the route. It is believed to include a time capsule containing four Bibles in different languages, pins, British currency, a railway roster and a newspaper in addition to photographs of the globe’s most attractive women at the time. Towering over the contemporary metropolis, Cleopatra’s Needle at once looks over and dominates the city’s skyline.