The Sallustiano Obelisk is the official name of the obelisk in front of the Trinità dei Monti church at the top of the Spanish Steps in Rome, although most people know it by the name Trinità de’ Monti Obelisk.
Trinità dei Monti Obelisk Rome
History and description
The obelisk was probably brought to Rome by Aureliano and originally placed in the Orti Sallustiani (Gardens of Sallust). The inscriptions themselves are Roman and were, badly, copied from the one that can be seen in the Piazza del Popolo. Whoever did the work managed to turn some of the symbols upside down.
For centuries the obelisk was left abandoned in the Sallustian Gardens, where it had been torn down by Alaric‘s Visigoths in the year 410.
In 1789, the architect Giovanni Antinori moved the Obelisco Sallustiano to its present location. It was Pope Pius VI who commissioned the move, after Pope Clement XII had earlier tried (and failed) to have the obelisk erected in front of the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano in 1734, just as Pope Sixtus V had failed to move it to a spot in front of the Santa Maria degli Angeli Church in the 16th century.
The actual needle is, with its measly height of slightly less than 14m, one of the smaller obelisks in Rome, although the pedestal, the French lily (the only symbol on all the obelisks of Rome that is not Papal) and the cross on top raise its total height to around 30m. It is made of red granite.
The pedestal, which proportionally is far too big for the monolith, is not the original one. This can be found on the Capitol Hill, in the garden to the left of the Palazzo Senatorio, and was dedicated the “Altar for Fallen Fascists” (Ara dei Caduti Fascisti) in the 1920’s.