Location: Victoria Embankment, London, England Pharaoh: Tuthmosis III (reigned 1504-1450 B.C.) Height: 69 feet Weight: 187 tons Story: The British first began to consider appropriating this obelisk, which
had originally stood in the Temple of the Sun in Heliopolis, after the French
were defeated at the Battle of Alexandria in 1801. But it was not until the
1870s, when the soldier-turned-writer General James Alexander took up the
cause, that serious efforts were made to collect it. After much negotiation and
preliminary work, "Cleopatra's Needle"—as this and its companion, now in New
York, were dubbed—was loaded aboard a special barge and towed to England.
Disaster struck in the Bay of Biscay, when a gale separated the barge, the
Cleopatra, from its mother ship, the Olga. In their attempt to
secure the barge to the Olga, a number of seamen were lost, and the
barge was finally set adrift. Coming upon it on the high seas, a Glasgow
steamer towed it into port. In January 1878, the Cleopatra was finally
pulled up the Thames and moored near the Houses of Parliament. Eight months
later, on September 13th, its precious cargo was raised on the Victoria
Embankment, where it may be seen today.