After a very full morning with Sue, Larissa and I headed back on the train to London. We still had daylight ahead of it, and we were committed to making the most of the glorious spring afternoon we were given. We had made a date with Cleopatra. Her needle, that is, which graces the banks of the River Thames on a site called the Victoria Embankment.
When I first discovered, a few years ago, that there was an ancient Egyptian obelisk in London I was determined to see it during one of my trips. Although she had likely passed it several times during her travels, Larissa had also yet to visit Cleopatra’s Needle.
The history of the obelisk that now pierces the London skyline at a height of 20.88 meters and weighs 187 tons, begins in the 15th century BC in Heliopolis. The pharaoh Tuthmosis III had ordered the building of the Temple of the Sun, as well as a pair of obelisks to record its dedication. In the 10th century BC, the obelisk was moved to Alexandria to decorate the temple of Julius Caesar. An earthquake in 1303 toppled the obelisk, and it was not erected again until it was brought to London 1877 on board the ship Cleopatra, as a gift from Egypt to commemorate the Battle of Aboukir. After its erection in London, two bronze sphinxes were made to flank its sides.
It seemed a fitting end to our adventures, gazing upon this ancient memorial to the sun with the London Eye shining golden with the day’s end across the water. A very full and glorious day, of time well-spent touched with magic.