The obelisk of Luxor is perhaps the most prominent feature of the place. It is a magnificent relic of Egypt, and is one of two obelisks which stood in front of the temple of Thebes. It was erected fifteen hundred and fifty years before Christ, by Sesostris, in the eighteenth Egyptian dynasty. Mehemet Ali made a present of the obelisk to the French government. On account of its enormous size, great difficulty was experienced in removing it to Paris. A road was constructed from the obelisk to the Nile, and eight hundred men were occupied three months in removing it to the banks of the river, where was a flat-bottomed vessel built expressly for it. A part of the vessel had to be sawed off to receive it, so great was its size. It descended the Nile, passed the Rosetta bar, and with great care was towed to Cherbourg. It must be remembered that the obelisk is a single stone, seventy-two feet high, and weighs five hundred thousand pounds. On the 16th of August, 1836, it was drawn up an inclined plane to the top of the pedestal where it now stands. In the following October, the public ceremony of placing it occurred, in the presence of the royal family, and more than a hundred and fifty thousand other persons.
[Illustration: Place de la Concorde.]
The cost of removal from Thebes to Paris was two millions francs, but not a life was lost from the beginning to the end of the transaction. It stands upon a single block of gray granite, the total height of obelisk and pedestal being about a hundred feet.
There are two fountains upon the Place, dedicated, one to Maritime, the other to Fluvial navigation. The basin of each is fifty feet in diameter, out of which rise two smaller ones, the latter inverted. Six tall figures are seated around the larger basins, their feet resting on the prows of vessels, separated from each other by large dolphins which spout water into the higher basins. But the beauty of the Place de la Concorde is not so much the result of any one feature as the combination of the whole, and as such it is unequaled in Europe.
From the Place de la Concorde one has a fine view of the Arch of Triumph, which was erected by Napoleon in honor of his great victories.
THE LOUVRE—PUBLIC GARDENS—LUXEMBOURG PALACE AND GARDENS—THE GOBELINS.
The subject is hackneyed and old—what can I say about the Louvre which will be new to the reader? However, to write a book on Paris, and make no mention of the Louvre, would be like acting the play of Hamlet, with Hamlet omitted. I make no pretensions to critical skill in reference to paintings or architecture, I only give the impressions of a man who loves both when they seem beautiful to him. I am no such art enthusiast that I love to wander through galleries of naked and sensual pictures, though they do show great genius. Nor can the glitter and grandeur of a thousand public buildings hide from my eyes the squalor and wretchedness of the common people.