Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Cleopatras Needle (London)

Cleopatras Needle is by far the oldest structure in London, being much older than the city itself.

It stands on the Victoria Embankment, beside the River Thames. Its height is 60 feet, and it weighs 186 tons.

The needle is in fact a pink granite obelisk that was originally constructed at Heliopolis in Egypt about 1500 BC, around a millennium and a half before Cleopatras reign, when it was moved to Alexandria.

It was presented to the British government by Mohammed Ali, the Viceroy of Egypt, in 1819, but it was not until 1877 that it was towed by sea to London. During the journey, it was lost during a storm in the Bay of Biscay, when six sailors were drowned. It was re-erected on the Embankment on 12th September 1878, with a time capsule beneath it.

There are similar obelisks in New York, Paris and Istanbul.

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