Saturday, 4 February 2012

Cleopatra's Needle

Cleopatra’s Needle on Victoria Embankment is one of a pair. The other is in Central Park, New York. London’s needle was presented to the UK in 1819 by Muhammad Ali the ruler of Egypt and Sudan to commemorate Nelsons victory in the Battle of the Nile and Abercromby’s victory at Alexandria.

The 21 metre, 224 ton obelisk is misnamed as it has no connection to Cleopatra who ruled 1,000 years after it was created, which was during the reign of Pharaoh Thutmose III.

The needle remained buried in sand for over two thousand years which helped preserve the hieroglyphics (until Londons polluted air got at it). In 1877 a bespoke craft was commissioned to tow the needle from Egypt to London and was almost lost during bad weather in the Bay of Biscay, when six crew were lost trying to stabilise the craft

It was finally erected in its current position on 12 September 1878

Cleopatra's Needle is flanked by two fake Egyptian sphinxes cast in bronze. The stone base of each was damaged on 4 September 1917 in a German air raid. The shrapnel damage can still be seen to this day.

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