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The obelisk in St. Peter’s square has more than 3.000 years of history. It was brought to Rome by Caligula in 37 A.D. with the aim to decorate his circus which was located 265 meters further compared to where the obelisk stands today. Pope Sixtus V employed 44 winches, 900 workers and 140 horses to place it at the centre of the square.

Thousands of dignitaries and citizens were assembled to watch the erection, but were restrained to silence by penalty of death so that the commands of the chief erector could be heard. The daring operation was about to be compromised when someone noticed that the lifting ropes were overheated to the point of tearing. Breaking the silence imposed to the crowd, a Ligurian sailor shouted “Water to the ropes” risking his own life. The pope forgave him because of his provident suggestion; encouraged to ask for a reward, the sailor was granted the exclusive supply of palm trees for the Holy Week. Still today, the palm trees for the Sunday celebration come from the coastal town of Sanremo.

Check in Rome - a project by Markonet in cooperation with Aeroporti di Roma and Codacons | director: Stefano Zerbi