There are many places of Rome connected to ancient Egypt, as the link between these two millennial civilizations is very close.
After the conquest in the Egyptian land by the Roman emperor Julius Caesar, Rome knows the great civilization of the Middle East. Today there are numerous testimonies of Egyptian Rome or those that evoke Egypt — starting with the Pyramid Cestia, built in the Ostiense area, completely covered with white Carrara marble.
Not only the pyramids but above all the obelisks are witnesses of the ancient relationship between Rome and Egypt. Moreover, there are many small temples dedicated to the cult of Isis and Serapis, almost wholly destroyed, and the remains of statues and sculptures dating back to 'Ancient Egypt.
In imperial times the obelisks had not only a decorative function, but they remembered the victories, and they were a sign of the power of civilization. During the barbarian invasions, many of these obelisks were destroyed or lost. Only in the Renaissance and Baroque periods, they were relocated to the squares of Rome. Pope Sisto V's goal was to create a tourist-religious itinerary for pilgrims, who were helped to find their way following the path through the obelisks.
Then, on the recommendation of Pope Sisto V, 4 obelisks were placed: one in Piazza San Pietro, one in Esquilino, one in San Giovanni in Laterano and another one in Piazza del Popolo. Later, other famous squares of Rome were embellished with Egyptian obelisks.
The Obelisco Lateranense is the oldest, and comes from Thebes (now Luxor), in front of the temple of Amon at Karnak. The obelisk of St. Peter's Square is the only one still standing and comes from Heliopolis, as well as the Flaminio obelisk, located in Piazza del Popolo.
The Egyptian Academy in Rome is a place where all Egyptian culture, both ancient and modern, is represented. It houses the Egyptian Museum, which illustrates salient passages from the great history of ancient Egypt through unique replicas of part of the funerary equipment of the Tomb of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun.
Inside the Egyptian Academy, which recalls the Library of Alexandria in Egypt as architectural form and external decorations, various types of art are hosted. Through exhibitions, concerts, cultural events, conferences, the whole world of Egyptian Fine Arts is illustrated.
Of great importance for quality and quantity of pieces, the Gregorian Egyptian Museum was founded inside the Vatican Museums by Pope Gregory XVI and houses a vast collection of finds from ancient Egypt. The exhibited material includes papyrus, mummies, the famous Book of the Dead, and the Grassi Collection.
The Egyptian hall includes remarkable statuary with Egyptian pieces. The glyptic collection recently donated by the Santarelli family, housed in Palazzo Clementino Caffarelli, presents various Egyptian pieces.
Did you like the travel story?
Get more! Subscribe to our monthly inspiration newsletter.