The biggest obelisk on earth is Washington Monument, the signature landmark of Washington D.C. It is not only the largest obelisk of all, it is the tallest stone-made monument of any kind. It was built in memory of the first president of the United States, George Washington.
Height and Construction Details of the World’s Biggest Obelisk
The Washington Monument is 169.294 meters or exactly 555 feet and 5 1/8 inches tall. It is built purely from sandstone, granite and marble. Construction was inaugurated on the 4th of July, 1848 and completed 36 years later on December 6, 1884. The monument changes color at about 46 meters, the point where construction was temporarily halted in 1858. It was dedicated in a formal ceremony on February 21, 1885 or a day after Washington’s 153rd birthday anniversary. When it opened to the public 3 years later, the Washington Monument was the world’s tallest structure. It held this distinction for only a year, when in 1889 the French finished their construction of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The monument cost over $1 million.
Other Dimensions of the Washington Monument
Base of monument: 16.8 meters (55 ½ feet)
Shaft of monument: 10.49 meters (34 feet 5 inches)
From the lobby to the observation: 152 meters (500 feet)
Monument walls base level: 4.6 meters (15 feet)
Monument walls observation level: 460 millimeters (18 inches)
Total weight: 90,854 short tons
Number of blocks used: 36,491
Capstone weight: 3,300 pounds
Depth of foundation: 11.23 meters (36 feet and 10 inches)
Foundation area: 1,486.5 square meters (16,001 square feet)
Origin of Obelisks in the Ancient World
Obelisks have been around since ancient times. An obelisk is defined a tapering structure with four sides and a pyramid shape at the top. The word “obelisk” is Greek for a pointed pillar. Herodotus used the term to describe the tall structures he saw in his travels to Egypt. The Egyptians themselves called them “benben.”
The obelisk was a common feature of Egyptian architecture. Pairs of obelisks were placed at the front of temples. The biggest Egyptian obelisk still in the country is 20.7 meters high and weighs 120 tons. The tallest is 105.6 feet tall and located today in Rome. The ancient Romans were quite fond of the obelisk design and either built them themselves or carried off the ones they found in Egypt.
The Egyptian obelisks were originally monolithic, made from pure red granite. The pharaohs erected obelisks to commemorate the 30th anniversary of their kingship.