The Luxor obilisk, which towers over the Place de la Concorde in Paris, was installed on 25 October 1836. The monument was a gift from the Viceroy of Egypt, Mehmet Ali. It was one of a pair of obilisks that had adorned the entrance to the temple of Luxor and which had been given to France in 1830. The task of transporting the ancient structure fell to the engineer Apollinaire Lebas. It began its epic voyage in December 1831 and landed in Toulon in May 1833, before finally arriving in Paris the following year.
King Louis-Phillipe 1 chose the Place de La Concorde as the obilisk’s final resting place to help change the bloody image of the site. It was there that Louis XVI, Marie-Antoinette and other victims of the French Revolution met their end under the blade of the guillotine in 1793.
The pink granite monument, measuring 23 metres in height and weighing 230 tonnes, was erected using what was then state-of-the-art elevating machinery. The royal family joined a large crowd that had gathered to watch the historic event.
Images of the installation were engraved on the base of the obilisk, replacing the original carvings of baboons with their sex organs covered up. They were considered too indecent for the sensibilities of the time, but are now on display in the Louvre.
Ownership of the obilisk, which never made it to France, was given back to Egypt by President Francois Mitterand during the 1980s.
Also on 25 October: the French cavalry was annihilated by England’s King Henry V at the battle of Agincourt (1415); Britain invaded the Transvaal in (1900); France’s Centre National de la Cinematograhpie was created (1946); Uganda joined the United Nations (1962).
Born on October 25: the Austrian composer Johann Strauss (1825); the Spanish painter Pablo Picasso (1881), and the American singer Kate Perry (1984).
Luxor obilisk takes centre stage in Paris