The Quest for a Complete List of Obelisks: What We Know So Far

Obelisks have long fascinated people around the world. These towering, four-sided monuments have been built by civilizations throughout history, from ancient Egypt to modern-day Washington, D.C. But despite their ubiquity, there’s still a lot we don’t know about obelisks. One of the most pressing questions is whether anyone has compiled a complete list of every obelisk in the world. In this article, we’ll explore the history of obelisks, the challenges of cataloging them all, and what we currently know about the quest for a complete list.

Here is a list of some of the most famous obelisks in the world:

  1. Cleopatra’s Needle – London, England
  2. Obelisk of Luxor – Place de la Concorde, Paris, France
  3. Washington Monument – Washington, D.C., USA
  4. Obelisk of Buenos Aires – Buenos Aires, Argentina
  5. Theodosius Obelisk – Istanbul, Turkey
  6. Axum Obelisks – Axum, Ethiopia
  7. Karnak Temple Obelisks – Luxor, Egypt
  8. Lateran Obelisk – Rome, Italy
  9. Montecitorio Obelisk – Rome, Italy
  10. Senusret I Obelisk – Al-Matariyyah, Egypt

This is just a small sampling of the many obelisks that can be found around the world, but these monuments are some of the most famous and iconic. Each obelisk has its own unique history and cultural significance, making them fascinating subjects for exploration and study.

The history of obelisks

Obelisks have existed for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians were the first to build obelisks, which they used as part of their religious and funerary practices. These monolithic structures were carved from a single piece of stone and often featured hieroglyphs and other decorative elements.

Over time, other civilizations began to adopt the obelisk as a symbol of power and prestige. The Romans, for example, brought many Egyptian obelisks back to Rome as spoils of war and erected them as monuments to their own greatness. More recently, obelisks have been erected in cities around the world, often as symbols of national pride or as memorials to important events or figures.

The challenges of cataloging obelisks

Given the long and varied history of obelisks, it’s no surprise that cataloging them all is a daunting task. There are several challenges that make compiling a complete list difficult:

  • Obelisks have been erected in many different countries and regions, often in remote or inaccessible locations.
  • Many obelisks have been destroyed or lost to history, making it difficult to determine their original location or even if they ever existed.
  • There is no centralized database or registry of obelisks, making it difficult to track down information about individual monuments.

Has anyone compiled a complete list?

Despite these challenges, there have been many attempts to compile a complete list of obelisks. Some of the more notable efforts include

  • The Obelisk Database, a project started in 2009 by author and historian Peter H. Michel that aims to catalog every known obelisk in the world. By 2023, the database will contain information on more than 2,000 obelisks.
  • The work of French historian Christiane Desroches Noblecourt, who spent decades studying Egyptian obelisks and wrote several books on the subject.
  • The work of Italian archaeologist Gianluca Miniaci, who has compiled a comprehensive list of Egyptian obelisks and their locations around the world.

While these efforts have made great strides in cataloging obelisks, it is important to note that there is still much we don’t know. New obelisks are still being discovered, and many existing monuments remain poorly documented or completely unknown.


In conclusion, the quest for a complete list of obelisks is an ongoing one, with new discoveries and research being made all the time. While we may never be able to say with certainty that we’ve found every obelisk in the world, the efforts of historians, archaeologists, and other researchers have brought us closer to that goal than ever before. Whether you’re a fan of history, architecture, or just curious about the world around you, there’s no denying the enduring appeal of these towering monuments.



How many obelisks are there in the world?

Only about 30 such obelisks are still in existence worldwide; figures vary between sources with different definitions of extant Egyptian obelisks. For example, David Allen states there are 29 such obelisks, with more in Italy than in Egypt.

What country has the most obelisks?

For of the 21 ancient obelisks still standing, Egypt itself can claim fewer than five. Rome boasts 13, all snatched from the Land of the Pharaohs in Roman times, and the rest are spread from Istanbul to New York City. Click on the labeled map below to view and review the world’s 12 mightiest standing monoliths.

What all countries have obelisk?

Currently, there are obelisks in France, England, the United States, Italy, and Turkey. France: One of the four obelisks transferred to France is very significant as it belongs to Ramses II.

What is the most famous obelisks in the world?

Below is a list of the world’s most famous obelisks.

  1. Washington Monument, Washington DC, United States.
  2. Luxor Obelisk, Paris, France.
  3. Obelisco de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  4. Cleopatra’s Needle, New York, United States.
  5. Luxor Obelisk, Luxor, Egypt.


Does Russia have an obelisk?

The Rumyantsev Obelisk (Russian: Румянцевский обелиск) is a granite obelisk located in Saint Petersburg. It is at the centre of Rumyantsev Square, on Vasilyevsky Island, between the Menshikov Palace and the Saint Petersburg Institute for Painting, Sculpture and Architecture.

What is the oldest obelisk in the world?

The earliest surviving obelisk dates from the reign of Sesostris I (1918–1875 bce) and stands at Heliopolis, a suburb of Cairo, where once stood a temple to Re.

Do obelisks tell time?

Obelisks (slender, tapering, four-sided monuments) were built as early as 3500 BCE. Their moving shadows formed a kind of sundial, enabling people to partition the day into morning and afternoon. Obelisks also showed the year’s longest and shortest days when the shadow at noon was the shortest or longest of the year.

Does France have an obelisk?

The ancient Egyptian obelisk that stands on the Place de la Concorde in central Paris, arrived in France on 10 May 1833. And it was on 25 October of that year the obelisk was raised here, watched on by King Louis-Philippe I and an eager crowd.

Why was obelisk abandoned?

History of the obelisk

The obelisk’s creators began to carve it directly out of bedrock, but cracks appeared in the granite and the project was abandoned.

Where are the 3 obelisks in the world?

Cleopatra, Napoleon, Queen Victoria and a Vanderbilt: How Three Ancient Egyptian Obelisks Ended Up Halfway Across the World in New York City, Paris, and London.

Which city has the most obelisks?

The city of Rome

The city of Rome harbours thirteen ancient obelisks, the most in the world. There are eight ancient Egyptian and five ancient Roman obelisks in Rome, together with a number of more modern obelisks; there was also until 2005 an ancient Ethiopian obelisk in Rome.

Where are the four obelisks?

As commemorative monuments

Examples from the 19th and 20th centuries include the Stone of the Empress (1835) in Helsinki, the Wellington Monument (1861) in Dublin, the Washington Monument (1884) in Washington, D.C., the Obelisk of Buenos Aires (1936) in Buenos Aires, and the National Monument (1975) in Jakarta.

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