Obelisks in Rome:

Everyone knows Rome is a treasure trove of ancient monuments. But did you know that it boasts more ancient obelisks than anywhere else in the world? The Eternal City has eight Egyptian and five Roman obelisks scattered throughout its historic center, some of which are over 3,000 years old.

These soaring trunks of red granite raise more questions than they answer, standing in the center of the city’s squares without much context and (unless you read hieroglyphics) without any explanation.

We’ve written this article to share everything you need to know about the obelisks of Rome. Some of which have more interesting stories than the big beasts of Rome. Yes, Spanish Steps, we're looking at you.

So what's the story of the 13 obelisks in Rome? Click below to find out.

Table of Contents: click the name of the Obelisk and find out

Vatican Obelisk

Current Location St. Peter's Square
Origin Heliopolis, Egypt
Date of Construction 19th-century BC by Mencares
Date Moved to Rome 1st-century BC by Caligula
Height 25.5m (83.6ft)

 

Despite its height of 25 meters (the second largest in Rome) and the number of times it has been moved, the Vatican Obelisk is still the only obelisk to have never toppled after arriving in Rome.

Dating back to the 19th century BC, this obelisk from Heliopolis, Egypt was brought to Rome by the emperor Caligula in 37 AD. According to the records at the time, a special ship had to be built to transport such a massive monument to Rome safely. Once the huge Vatican Obelisk came to Rome, Caligula first had it placed in his gardens, then on the spina of his circus (which underlies St. Peter’s Basilica), where it stayed until 1585.

In 1585, Pope Sixtus V started a thirteen month endeavor to move the Vatican Obelisk to where it is today, in St. Peter’s Square. How do you move a huge 330 ton granite obelisk? According to the pope’s trusted architect Domenico Fontana, he needed 72 horses, 900 men, and 40,000 pounds of hemp ropes and iron bars.

Fulfilling the task of assembling the obelisk in its final place was more than stressful, and because of this, Pope Sixtus V had ordered complete silence during this process. But when one of the hemp ropes started to fray, one Genovese sailor broke the silence, yelling to put water on the ropes.

This ultimately saved the obelisk from falling and breaking into pieces, and Pope Sixtus V rewarded the man by decreeing that all fronds used for Palm Sunday services in the Vatican would be from the man’s hometown, Bordighera, a tradition that continues to this day.

The Vatican Obelisk has stayed in St. Peter’s Square, where our Vatican tours all finish, since 1585. Today, the obelisk acts as a centerpiece for the square (and a sundial) for any visitor venturing into Vatican City.

 

Lateran Obelisk

Current Location Piazza di San Giovanni in Laterano
Origin Temple of Amun in Kamak, Egypt (Thebes)
Date of Construction 15th-century BC by Tuthmosis II and IV
Date Moved to Rome 3rd-century AD by Constantine
Height 32.18m (105.6ft)

 

As well as being the tallest ancient Egyptian obelisk in the world, the Lateran Obelisk may well also be the oldest. Finished in the 15th century BC, for nearly seventeen centuries it stood at the eastern end of the Temple of Amun Re in Thebes. In the late 3rd century AD, the emperor Constantine I ordered it to be brought to his new capital of Constantinople.

Constantine died before the obelisk had even left Egypt. But his son and successor, the creatively named Constantius, realised his father’s ambition, transporting it first to Constantinople and then on to Rome in 357 AD.

Constantius erected the Lateran Obelisk on the spina of the Circus Maximus. At some point during the centuries that followed the obelisk fell and crumbled into three pieces. It wouldn’t be found again until the papacy of the obelisk-obsessive Pope Sixtus V (1585 - 1590).

Sixtus instigated a search for the former monument, eventually finding its remains buried 23 feet below ground level in the Circus Maximus. These remains he had transported to Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano where, after a year of hard work, they were reassembled and the obelisk re-erected in 1588.

Standing majestically beside the St. John Lateran Church, the Lateran Obelisk tells a fascinating story. The hieroglyphic inscription running up the obelisk states that it was started under the great persecutor of the Egyptian Hebrews, Tuthmosis III, (1504 – 1450 BC) but was not finished until the reign of his grandson Tuthmosis IV in 1400 BC.

The hieroglyphs praise both Egyptian monarchs in typically bombastic terms, a typical translation reading something like:

The hamarchis, the living Sun, the strong Bull beloved of the Sun, Lord of diadems very terrible in all lands…”

By contrast the Latin inscriptions at its base are infinitely more… well, Latin. True to the Romans’ innate reverence for procedure and protocol, the inscriptions delineate the nitty-gritty detail of how the obelisk was transported from Egypt to Rome.

The western inscription lists how many rowers were needed to transport the monument. The southern inscription incorrectly names St. John in Lateran as the site where Constantine was baptised. The eastern inscription records Constantius’s order that the obelisk be relocated to Rome. Finally, the northern inscription commemorates Pope Sixtus’s efforts to re-erect the monument in its present location.

 

Pantheon Obelisk

Current Location Piazza della Rotanda (in front of Pantheon
Origin Temple of Ra in Heliopolis, Egypt
Date of Construction 13th-century BC by Ramses II
Date Moved to Rome 1st-century AD by Domitian
Height 6.34m (20.8ft)

 

The Pantheon Obelisk stands at the center of the Piazza della Rotonda, in front of the Pantheon. But this obelisk was originally created not for Rome’s pantheon of gods, but outside of an Egyptian temple honoring the sun god Ra. The monument was created between 1279-1213 BC, during the reign of Ramses II, were it stayed for more than one thousand years.

The Pantheon Obelisk was removed from the Egyptian city of Heliopolis between 81-96 AD, when the Roman emperor Domitian brought it to Rome. But the obelisk was still (temporarily) placed near the long lost Temple of Isis, another Egyptian temple.

Once in Rome, the Pantheon Obelisk was moved to multiple places, including near the Basilica Santa Maria sopra Minerva (1374) and in the Piazza San Macuto (1575). But in 1711 the Pantheon Obelisk was moved to where it can be seen today, in front of the Pantheon.

Today, this monument is more than the obelisk itself. The fountain that now serves as part of the base was designed in 1575 by Giacomo Della Porta. Some of the features that can be seen today are from the original fountain, including the head spurting water (facing the Pantheon). The pieces added later include the stone basin and the decorative dolphins, creating a fitting centerpiece to the Piazza della Rotonda.

 

Piazza Navona Obelisk

Current Location Piazza Navona
Origin Rome
Date of Construction 1st-century AD by Domitian
Date Moved to Rome  
Height 16.53m (54.2ft)

 

Standing tall in the center of the famed Piazza Navona atop Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers, the Piazza Navona Obelisk has had quite the international journey. Commissioned by emperor Domitian and originally titled Agonalis, it was erected at the Temple of Serapis which stood near today’s Santa Maria sopra Minerva.

In ancient Egyptian lore, Isis was the goddess of rebirth and Osiris was the god of the afterlife and resurrection. What does this have to do with Serapis, you ask? Well, Serapis was introduced in the 3rd century BC as a way to unify the Greeks and Egyptians by a successor to the pharaohs--the ptolemies. He replaced Osiris in temples outside of Egypt, thereby alluding to his Greek appearance and Egyptian adornments.

The red granite used to create the Piazza Navona Obelisk was transferred along the Nile River. Once arrived, it was erected and cut with the hieroglyphics we see today. Half of its journey is over, mined in one continent and built in another. But the real hardship begins after it was moved to Circus Maximus in the 4th century AD. It was centered among the grassy ring surrounded by the chariot race track. Disastrously, it fell during the 6th century AD and broke into five pieces.

The Piazza Navona Obelisk laid there in ruins among the abandoned race track for centuries. It wasn’t until 1630s when an English buyer was denied the purchase of four of its pieces that it was repaired. Soon after, it was erected atop Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers in 1651 where it stands today. Interestingly, the emperor who commissioned the obelisk, Domitian, also built the stadium that once stood where Piazza Navona is, called the Circus Agonalis.

 

Sallustiano Obelisk (Spanish Steps Obelisk)

Spanish Steps Obelisk

Current Location Trinitá dei Monti
Origin Rome
Date of Construction 3rd-century AD
Date Moved to Rome  
Height 13.91m (45.6ft)

 

 

 

 

 

 Although the Sallust Gardens Obelisk is known more today with its association with the Spanish Steps, this monument has been in multiple places throughout the city before finally settling in the Piazza della Trinità in 1789.

As its name describes, the first known placement of the obelisk was in the gardens of Sallust after Augustus’ death in 14 AD. The obelisk stood there until the eighth century, but later traces on this obelisk are unknown until the fifteenth century.

When the Sallust Gardens Obelisk was found in the fifteenth century, it was on the ground and needed repair. But the obelisk was not reassembled until the eighteenth century, where it was brought to Lateran for a short period, then finally moved to its current placement by Pope Pius VI.

The Sallust Gardens Obelisk is made from Egyptian red granite, but the hieroglyphs are a later Roman addition. These hieroglyphs in particular were supposed to be copied from the obelisk of Ramesses II in the Circus Maximus (erected by Augustus). Although their intention was to honor both Ramasses II and the Roman god, Apollo, some of the hieroglyphs were copied wrong, clouding the message.

 

Pincian Obelisk

Current Location Pincian Hill
Origin Rome
Date of Construction 2nd-century AD by Hadrian
Date Moved to Rome  
Height 9.24m (30.3ft)

 

 

 

 

 

Egyptian only in appearance, the Pincian Obelisk was made in Rome. This is apparent by its sloppily-adorned hieroglyphics, though from a distance it is quite convincing.

This may be one of the most heart-felt constructs, even if it is an imitation. Erected by emperor Hadrian to memorialize the love of his life, Antinous, it originally stood over the poor boy’s grave. Antinous drowned in the Nile under mysterious circumstances in 130 AD. Most believe it was an attempt at saving Hadrian’s life, but other possibilities include a court conspiracy or suicide/self-sacrifice. No matter the reason, the event not only left Hadrian heartbroken but possibly inspired the decision for an Egyptian-style monument.

Originally, the Pincian Obelisk was erected in Tivoli at Hadrian’s Villa, where he and Antinous lived. It was later moved to Rome during the reign of Elagabalus during the early 3rd century AD to decorate Caracalla’s race track, the Circus Varianus. More than one millennium later, in 1570, its fragments were reassembled and erected in the Vigna Saccoccia near Porta Maggiore. Then, the Barberini family acquired it in 1633 and had it moved to their estate before being moved--yet again--to the Vatican’s Giardino della Pigna. It was erected in its current location on Pincian Hill by Pope Pius VII in 1822.

The transcription of the hieroglyphics reads: “O, Antinous! This deceased one, who rests in this tomb in the country estate of the emperor of Rome”. The original base of the Pincian Obelisk wasn’t discovered until fairly recently, in 2001, in the Villa Adriana (Hadrian's Villa) in Tivoli.

 

Minerva Obelisk

Current Location Piazza della Minerva
Origin Sais, Egypt
Date of Construction 6th-century BC by Apries
Date Moved to Rome 3rd-century AD by Diocletian
Height 5.5m (17.9ft)

 

 

 

 

 

Also known as the Elephant Obelisk, the Minerva Obelisk is one of the smaller monuments at just 5.5 meters. Though it is called the Minerva Obelisk, it origins date back to the 6th-century BC from the town of Sais in Egypt under Pharaoh Apries. It was brought to Rome by emperor Diocletian in the late 3rd-century AD for a now lost Temple of Isis, located near its current position.

At one point or another, the obelisk collapsed and remained lost among the rubble of the city for centuries. However, in the mid-1600s, it was given new life. Found in the garden of a Domenican monastery, it was reassembled and erected atop the elephant we see today by the great Italian sculptor, Bernini--hence the nickname “Elephant Obelisk”.

It received its actual name, the Minerva Obelisk, because it stands in place of a temple to Minvera. The monument also proves that Bernini was a comedian (or maybe just a really funny man). Father Paglia of the monastery was jealous of Bernini and convinced the pope that the elephant’s legs were not enough to support the obelisk it held. An aggravated Bernini added the block of support under the elephant’s belly, intentionally facing it’s rear end towards Father Paglia and his monastery.

 

Montecitorio Obelisk

Current Location Piazza di Montecitorio
Origin Heliopolis, Egypt
Date of Construction 6th-century BC by Psammetichus II
Date Moved to Rome 1st-century BC by Augustus
Height 21.79m (71.5ft)

 

 

 

 

 

An original Egytpian monument, the 7th-century BC Obelisk of Montecitorio was transported to Rome from Heliopolis in 10 BC by Rome’s first emperor, Augustus. Augustus erected the obelisk on the Campus Martius, near the Ara Pacis (Altar of Peace).

Augustus dedicated the obelisk to the sun god Sol to commemorate his defeat of Antony and Cleopatra and subjugation of Egypt in 31 BC. But that’s not all. The ingenious emperor then transformed the Montecitorio Obelisk into the largest gnomon (solar marker) ever built.

By tracking the shadow the sun cast from its pyramid-shaped peak, astrologists could divine both the time of day and day of the year. But being the propagandistic genius that he was, Augustus went one further. The emperor erected it in line with his Ara Pacis, calculating it so that every year on his birthday (September 23), the sun would cast a shadow pointing directly at the centre of his newly built altar.

This was strong symbolic stuff. It appeared to show divine favor for Augustus as the emperor born to peace (natus ad pacem, he boasted in Latin) who had come to the throne and restored order to the Empire after decades of bloody civil war.

The Obelisk of Montecitorio survived the many sackings that went with the fall of the Western Roman Empire, standing until the 8th century. But even when Pliny the Elder was writing in the late 1st century AD the obelisk had been giving inaccurate measurements for at least 30 years after shifting quite significantly out of place.

Finally, at some stage after the eighth century, the obelisk collapsed, crumbling to pieces to lie hidden in the sediment for centuries. It was eventually reconstructed by Pope Pius VI in 1789 and rededicated at the centre of Piazza di Montecitorio as the Montecitorio Obelisk.

This huge red granite structure contains inscriptions written in hieroglyphs, Latin, and Greek (presumably to impress Rome’s eastern visitors by advertising their emperor’s divine credentials). Its hieroglyphs identify the obelisk’s creator as the pharaoh Psamtik II.

They also mention that he dedicated it to the sun god Ra, which is appropriate given that the Latin inscription at the base tells that Augustus also dedicated it to the sun god (this time Sol). The Montecitorio’s Latin dedicatory inscription exactly matches that seen on the Flaminian Obelisk.

 

Flaminio Obelisk

Piazza del Popolo and the Flaminio Obelisk

Current Location Piazza del Popolo
Origin Temple of Ra in Heliopolis, Egypt
Date of Construction 14th and 13th-centuries BC by Seti I and Ramses II
Date Moved to Rome 1st-century BC by Augustus
Height 24m (78.7ft)

 

 

 

 

 

Centered in Piazza del Popolo is the Flaminio Obelisk, constructed by the pharaohs Seti I and Ramses II between the 14th- and 13th-centuries BC at the sun temple in Heliopolis, a capitol of ancient Egypt.

Seti I adorned three sides of this colossal monument with hieroglyphics and left the fourth side to Ramses II. These two were not the most humble: the transcription on one side has Seti I referring to himself as “the one who fills Heliopolis with obelisks so that their rays may illuminate the Temple of Re”, while Ramses takes it a bit further on another side stating he was the pharaoh “who made monuments as innumerable as the stars in heaven”.

Not only its construction was monumental, so was transporting it to Rome. A specially-designed ship took the Flaminio Obelisk to the first emperor of Rome, Augustus. This was in the wake of Antony and Cleopatra’s death and erected in 10 BC at one end of the grassy center of Circus Maximus, mirroring the Lateran Obelisk which joined in nearly 350 years later.

The Flaminio Obelisk remained standing tall until the 6th century where it came crashing down during the war between the Byzantines and the Goths. It was found in two pieces (much less than some of the other obelisks) among the rubble in 1587.

 

Pope Sixtus V moved it two years later, after it was reassembled, to its current location in Piazza del Popolo. It wasn’t fully reassembled, however: it was slightly shortened and the pope left his mark on the tip--the mountains and the star of Sixtus V.

Today, it is centered in Piazza del Popolo at the convergence of three main avenues with four lioness fountains at each corner. It received its name because it is in front of the Flaminian Gate in the Aurelian Wall.

 

Celimontana Obelisk

Current Location Villa Celimontana
Origin Temple of Ra in Heliopolis, Egypt
Date of Construction 13-century BC by Ramses II
Date Moved to Rome 1st-century AD by Domitian
Height 2.68m (8.8ft)

 

 

 

 

 

Taken from outside the Temple of the Sun in the Egyptian city of Heliopolis, the Celimontana Obelisk was transported to Rome by the emperor Domitian (81 - 96 AD). The top of the obelisk is old, really old - dating to the reign of Ramesses II (1279 – 1213 BC).

After arriving in Rome, it stood in front of the Temple of Isis in Rome’s Campus Martius. Legend has it that it was inside the small globe at the top that the ashes of Rome’s first emperor, Augustus, were stored. Even if this were true, they’re long since gone with the wind.

Following the fall of the Roman Empire, the Celimontana Obelisk was long lost to history. It was rediscovered in the fourteenth century and moved to the steps of the Capitoline Hill’s Piazza Campidoglio (now home to the Capitoline Museums and bronze statue of Marcus Aurelius).

It was transported to the park of Villa Celimontana in 1587, and again to its present location within the park in 1817. Tragedy struck when it was last moved. As it was being lowered onto its 16th-century base, one of the supporting winches broke, pinning the arm of one of the workers between the obelisk and its base.

The unfortunate worker had to have his hand—and most of his arm—amputated on the spot. Understandably, many considered this an ill omen and were discouraged from visiting the monument.  

Only the darker, upper part of the obelisk (measuring 2.68 metres) is an Egyptian original, and Egyptologists have translated its hieroglyphs to read: “Horus, powerful bull, beloved of Maat, King of Upper and Lower Egypt, son of the Sun, Ramses II”.

 

Quirinal Obelisk

Current Location Piazza del Quirinale
Origin Rome
Date of Construction 1st-century AD
Date Moved to Rome  
Height 14.63m (48ft)

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve already mentioned that not all of Rome’s obelisks come from Egypt. The Quirinal Obelisk, a Roman copy of an original Egyptian obelisk, was created in the first century AD. How can you tell if its a Roman obelisk? Because the obelisk includes a Latin dedication to Pope Pius VII and it does not have hieroglyphics.

Although the Quirinal Obelisk is not from ancient Egypt, the monument has been moved around Rome through its history. First, the Quirinal Obelisk was set up outside the Mausoleum of Augustus with another Roman obelisk. But the banks of the Tiber is not a good place for a 48 foot tall obelisk. The obelisks sank into the banks of the flooding Tiber, eventually breaking into three pieces.

The Quirinal and Esquiline obelisks outside the Mausoleum of Augustus

The Quirinal Obelisk was not moved again until 1786 when Pope Pius VII repaired the monument and had it moved to Quirinal Hill, the highest hill in Rome. The Quirinal Obelisk is still there today, right in front of an official residence of the Italian president.

 

Esquiline Obelisk

Current Location Piazza dell'Esquilino
Origin Rome
Date of Construction 1st-century AD
Date Moved to Rome  
Height 14.75m (48.4ft)

 

 

 

 

 

Another Roman imitation of an Egyptian original, the Esquiline Obelisk dates only from the 1st century AD. Which in the grand scheme of obelisks in Rome makes it really rather recent. It long stood alongside its twin, the Quirinal Obelisk, on the western side of the Mausoleum of Augustus in the Campus Martius.

Like its twin, the Esquiline Obelisk was long lost to history: gradually sinking into the ground every time the River Tiber burst its banks. We don’t know when it finally fell to pieces, but its remains were uncovered from beneath the silt at the opening of the Via di Ripetta in 1519 and reassembled and erected in front of the church of San Rocco eight years later.

In 1587, Pope Sixtus V ordered Domenico Fontana to erect the obelisk at its present spot behind the piazza of Santa Maria Maggiore, to provide a focal point for the street he had built which led to his piazza: Via Sistina (once named la strada felice after Pope Sixtus V Felice Peretti).

The Esquiline Obelisk doesn’t have any hieroglyphics (probably because it’s a Roman imitation). The only discernible symbol you can see on the monument refers to its restoration during the Renaissance: atop the obelisk are mountains and a star—symbols of the obelisk’s most recent papal patron, Pope Sixtus V.

 

Dogali Obelisk

Dogali Obelisk

Current Location Baths of Diocletian
Origin Heliopolis, Egypt
Date of Construction 13th-century BC by Ramses II
Date Moved to Rome 1st-century AD by Domitian
Height 2.74m (9ft)

 

 

Dating from the 13th century BC during the reign of Pharaoh Ramses II (who claimed to have produced more monuments than there were stars in the sky), the Dogali Obelisk remarkably ancient obelisk long stood in Heliopolis before being transferred to Rome during the reign of the emperor Domitian (81 – 96 AD).

After arriving in the Eternal City, the obelisk was erected inside the Temple of Isis along with its twin Heliopolitan obelisk—which now stands in the Boboli Gardens in Florence — and the Pantheon ObeliskThe Dogali Obelisk wasn’t rediscovered until 1883 when Italian archaeologist Rodolfo Lanciani quite literally stumbled across it near the Basilica of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva. Because of the discovery of other obelisks from the same ancient site, Lanciani and his team were immediately able to decipher the monument’s hieroglyphics and attribute it to Ramses II.

The obelisk was reassembled in 1887, rededicated as the Dogali Monument (after a battle the Italians fought in Ethiopia in 1887) and erected just outside Termini Station in Piazza Cinquecento. When this piazza was remodelled in the mid-1920s, however, the obelisk was uprooted and transported to its present location on the former site of the Baths of Diocletian.

What does the obelisk represent?

Obelisks in ancient Egypt

Made from a singular piece of stone (almost always red granite), these monolithic structures were placed on a base so they point directly upwards. The intended effect of this was that they represented the rays of the sun.

Their pyramid peaks and wider rectangular pillars create a widening effect as they make their way down, mirroring the optical effects of sunlight. And before we start judging, we must remember that the ancient Egyptians didn’t have much else in the way of special effects.

Obelisks were also believed to facilitate communication between the world of men and gods. These towering structures were positioned so that the first and last light of day would touch their peaks. The ancients saw this as a way of welcoming the sun god Ra into their world in the morning and wishing him well on his nocturnal adventure at sunset.

Ancient Heliopolis

The Egyptians always erected their obelisks in pairs, adhering to their belief in balance and harmony. The Romans later followed suit - both the Quirinal and the Esquiline obelisks once stood outside the Mausoleum of Augustus, for example. This wasn't necessarily because they shared the Egyptians’ religious beliefs. It was more because the Romans were nothing if not suckers for tradition.

As well as serving a religious purpose, obelisks were also practical. The ancients used them as sun-dials - as primitive yet practical means of telling the time, with the movement of the sun casting a shadow that indicated the approximate time of day. 

Why does Rome have Egyptian obelisks?

Piazza Navona Obelisk

A question people often ask us on our Rome guided tours is why the city has so many Egyptian obelisks. It’s a good question, and it has a straightforward answer: because the Romans had a love affair with Egypt and Egyptian culture.

Both the Greeks and Romans always associated Egypt with exoticism and adventure. Egypt was ancient even by their standards (remember the Great Pyramids were further apart in time from Cleopatra than Cleopatra is from us today).

More than the Great Pyramids of Gaza and the famous Sphinx at Thebes, Egypt boasted an incredible wealth of history, culture, and imperial prestige. And the Romans, militaristic as they were, admired nothing more than a strong, successful empire

How did Ancient Rome come to possess Egyptian lands?

Rome moved slowly into Egyptian territory, carrying out an insidious political takeover rather than an all-out invasion. During the late Roman Republic (last two centuries BC), the Romans forged alliances with the Egyptian ruling family, the Ptolemies, whose lineage stretched back to the time of Alexander the Great (died 323 BC).

By the time of Julius Caesar and his rival Pompey Magnus, Roman influence in the Mediterranean had grown to such an extent that they were the dominant power. So much so that when the Egyptian ruler Ptolemy Auletes died in 51 BC, he gave care of his children over to Pompey. 

When Caesar first arrived in Alexandria in the 1st century BC, he embarked on a steamy love affair with its queen Cleopatra, even fathering her child - Caesarian. After his death, his general, Mark Antony followed suit, living out a whirlwind romance with Cleopatra that led to both of their deaths and the establishment of one-man-rule in Rome. 

Talk about a bad romance.

After Augustus’ conquest of Egypt in 31 BC, Egypt and Egyptian fashion became all the rage. In terms of propaganda, it was fantastic to have relics from such an ancient and once-powerful civilization dotted across the imperial capital.

That’s why Augustus had the ship oars from the last battle against Cleopatra’s Egyptian forces installed on the Rostra of the Roman ForumCleopatra’s pearl earrings decorating the statue of Venus in the Pantheon, and obelisks from Heliopolis inserted on the spina (central barrier) of the Circus Maximus.

And of course Rome’s most famous Egyptian monument of all: the Pyramid of Gaius Cestius in Testaccio.