Cleopatra’s Needles—which Cleopatra had nothing to do with—were erected in Heliopolis, Egypt, around 1450 b.c., and inscriptions were added 200 years later. The Romans moved the granite spires to Alexandria, where they were toppled and buried in the sand, preserving them until the early 1800s. And after much peril during delivery, London’s 224-ton needle was erected here on the river in 1878. New York City got one in 1881, and a third went to Paris. Two sphinx were installed to guard it (some say backward, since they face the sculpture, not away from it). Just 130 years here wrecked what 20 Saharan centuries didn’t: Pollution has rendered the hieroglyphs illegible. In 1917, German bombs scarred the western sphinx. The cast iron benches in the area were installed in preparation of its arrival in the 1870s. Look closely; you’ll find sphinxes and camels hidden in the armrests.
Our Rating Transportation Tube: Embankment or Temple
MapVictoria Embankment London
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