Top Ten Columns/Pillars

Top Ten Columns/Pillars


  1. Luxor Columns, Egypt

    Luxor is a city in Upper (southern) Egypt and the capital of Luxor Governorate. The population numbers 487,896 (2010), with an area of approximately 416 square km (161 sq mi). As the site of the Ancient Egyptian city of Thebes, Luxor has frequently been characterized as the “world’s greatest open air museum,” as the ruins of the temple complexes at Karnak and Luxor stand within the modern city. Immediately opposite, across the River Nile, lie the monuments, temples and tombs on the West Bank Necropolis, which include the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens. Thousands of international tourists arrive annually to visit these monuments, contributing a large part towards the economy for the modern city.
    Links: Top Ten Egyptian Attractions, Temples, Top Ten African Temples, Museums and Galleries, Top Ten African Museums, Top Ten Obelisks, Relieves and Petroglyphs, Top Ten African Relieves,
  2. Abu Simbel Columns, Egypt

    Abu Simbel temples refers to two massive rock temples in Abu Simbel in Nubia, southern Egypt on the western bank of Lake Nasser about 230 km southwest of Aswan. The complex is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the “Nubian Monuments,” which run from Abu Simbel downriver to Philae (near Aswan). The twin temples were originally carved out of the mountainside during the reign of Pharaoh Ramesses II in the 13th century BC, as a lasting monument to himself and his queen Nefertari, to commemorate his alleged victory at the Battle of Kadesh, and to intimidate his Nubian neighbors. The complex was relocated in its entirety in 1968, on an artificial hill made from a domed structure, high above the Aswan High Dam reservoir. The relocation of the temples was necessary to avoid their being submerged during the creation of Lake Nasser, the massive artificial water reservoir formed after the building of the Aswan High Dam on the Nile River. Abu Simbel remains one of Egypt’s top tourist attractions.
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  3. Karnak, Egypt

    The Karnak Temple Complex comprises a vast mix of decayed temples, chapels, pylons and other buildings, notably the Great Temple of Amun and a massive structure begun by Pharaoh Ramses II (1391–1351 BC). Sacred Lake is part of the site as well. It is located near Luxor, some 500 km south of Cairo, in Egypt. The area around Karnak was the ancient Egyptian Ipet-isut (“The Most Selected of Places”) and the main place of worship of the 18th dynasty Theban Triad with the god Amun as its head. It is part of the monumental city of Thebes. The Karnak complex takes its name from the nearby and partly surrounded, modern village of el-Karnak, some 2.5 km north of Luxor.
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  4. The Apprentice Pillar, Rosslyn Chapel, Scotland
    The “Apprentice Pillar,” or “Prentice Pillar,” gets its name from a legend dating from the 18th century involving the master mason in charge of the stonework in the chapel and his young apprentice. According to the legend, the master mason did not believe that the apprentice could perform the complicated task of carving the column without seeing the original which formed the inspiration for the design. The master mason travelled to see the original himself, but upon his return was enraged to find that the upstart apprentice had completed the column anyway. In a fit of jealous anger the mason took up his mallet and struck the apprentice on the head, killing him. The legend concludes that as punishment for his crime, the master mason’s face was carved into the opposite corner to forever gaze upon his apprentice’s pillar. The pillar is also referred to as the “Princes Pillar” in An Account of the Chapel of Roslin (1778). On the architrave joining the pillar there is the inscription “Forte est vinum fortior est rex fortiores sunt mulieres super omnia vincit veritas:” “Wine is strong, a king is stronger, women are stronger still, but truth conquers all.” (1 Esdras, chapters 3 & 4). Author Henning Klovekorn has proposed that the pillar is representative of one of the roots of the Nordic Yggdrasil tree, prominent in Germanic and Norse mythology. He compares the dragons at the base of the pillar to the dragons found eating away at the base of the Yggdrasil root and, pointing out that at the top of the pillar is carved tree foliage, argues that the Nordic/Viking association is plausible considering the many auxiliary references in the chapel to Celtic and Norse mythology.
    Links: Top Ten Scottish Attractions, Top Ten Remote Viewers, Top Ten Knights Templar Works of Architecture, Top Ten Masonic Works of Architecture, Top Ten Secret Societies,,
  5. The Columns of Persepolis, Iran

    Persepolis was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire (550-330 BC). Persepolis is situated 70 km northeast of the modern city of Shiraz in the Fars Province of modern Iran. In contemporary Persian, the site is known as Takht-e Jamshid (Throne of Jamshid). The earliest remains of Persepolis date from around 515 BC. To the ancient Persians, the city was known as Pārsa, which means “The City of Persians.” Persepolis is a transliteration of the Greek Πέρσης πόλις (Persēs polis: “Persian city”).
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  6. Nellaiappar Temple Pillars, India
    Nellaiappar Temple is one of the famous Shiva Temples situated at the heart of Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu, India.
    Links: Top Ten Indian Attractions, Sculptures, Top 100 Asian Sculptures, Temples, Top Ten Asian TemplesTop Ten Indian Temples,,
  7. Memphis Columns, Egypt

    Memphis was the ancient capital of Aneb-Hetch, the first nome of Lower Egypt. Its ruins are located near the town of Helwan, south of Cairo. According to legend related by Manetho, the city was founded by the pharaoh Menes around 3,000 BC. It was the capital of Egypt during the Old Kingdom and remained an important city throughout ancient Mediterranean history. It occupied a strategic position at the mouth of the Nile delta and was home to feverish activity. Its principal port, Peru-nefer, harbored a high density of workshops, factories and warehouses that distributed food and merchandise throughout the ancient kingdom. During its golden age, Memphis thrived as a regional center for commerce, trade and religion. Memphis was believed to be under the protection of the god Ptah, the patron of craftsmen. Its great temple, Hut-ka-Ptah (meaning “Enclosure of the ka of Ptah”), was one of the most prominent structures in the city. The name of this temple, rendered in Greek as Aί γυ πτoς (Ai-gy-ptos) by the historian Manetho, is believed to be the etymological origin of the modern English name Egypt. The history of Memphis is closely linked to that of the country itself. Its eventual downfall is believed to be due to the loss of its economic significance in late antiquity, following the rise of coastal Alexandria. Its religious significance also diminished after the abandonment of the ancient religion following the Edict of Thessalonica. The ruins of the former capital today offer fragmented evidence of its magnificent past. They have been preserved, along with the pyramid complex at Giza, as a World Heritage Site since 1979. The site is open to the public as an open-air museum.
  8. The Parthenon and the Porch of the Caryatids
    The Parthenon is a Greek temple of the Doric order dedicated to the goddess Athena, which is located on the Acropolis of Athens. This temple, the most famous relic of ancient Greece, has been lauded as the best realization of the ‘ classical Greek architecture and its decoration are considered some of the greatest elements of the Greek art. The Parthenon is an enduring symbol of Ancient Greece and of Athenian democracy and is undoubtedly one of the greatest cultural monuments in the world. The Erechtheion is an ancient Greek temple on the north side of the Acropolis of Athens in Greece which was dedicated to both Athena and Poseidon, and boasts the famous Porch of the Caryatids.  A caryatid is a sculpted female figure serving as an architectural support taking the place of a column or a pillar supporting an entablature on her head. The Greek term karyatides literally means “maidens of Karyai,” an ancient town of Peloponnese. Karyai had a famous temple dedicated to the goddess Artemis in her aspect of Artemis Karyatis: “As Karyatis she rejoiced in the dances of the nut-tree village of Karyai, those Karyatides, who in their ecstatic round-dance carried on their heads baskets of live reeds, as if they were dancing plants” (Kerenyi 1980 p 149).
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  9. Hoysaleshwara Temple Pillars, India

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  10. Airavatesvara Temple Pillars, India
    Airavatesvara Temple is a Hindu temple of Dravidian architecture located in the town of Darasuram, near Kumbakonam in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. This temple, built by Rajaraja Chola II in the 12th century AD is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the Brihadeeswara Temple at Thanjavur, the Gangaikondacholisvaram Temple at Gangaikonda Cholapuram that are referred to as the Great Living Chola Temples.
    Links: Top Ten Indian Attractions,
  11. The Musical Pillars at the Vijaya Vittala Temple, Vijayanagara, India

    Hampi is a village in northern Karnataka state, India. It is located within the ruins of Vijayanagara, the former capital of the Vijayanagara Empire. Predating the city of Vijayanagara, it continues to be an important religious center, housing the Virupaksha Temple, as well as several other monuments belonging to the old city. In around 1500 Vijaynagar had 500,000 inhabitants, probably making it the 2nd largest city in the world after Peking-Beijing and twice the then size of Paris.
    Links: Top Ten Indian Attractions, Temples, Top Ten Temples, Top Ten Asian Temples, Top Ten Indian Temples,,,
  12. Enigma of the Ashokan Pillar, India

    The iron pillar (also known as the Ashokan pillar) of Delhi, India, is a 7 m (23 ft.) high pillar in the Qutb complex, notable for the composition of the metals used in its construction. The pillar, which weighs more than six tons, is said to have been fashioned at the time of Chandragupta Vikramaditya (375–413 AD) of the Gupta Empire, though other authorities give dates as early as 912 BC. The pillar initially stood in the center of a Jain temple complex housing 27 temples that were destroyed by Qutb-ud-din Aybak, and their material was used in building the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque and the Qutub Minar complex where the pillar stands today. The pillar has attracted the attention of archaeologists and metallurgists and has been called “a testament to the skill of ancient Indian blacksmiths” because of its high resistance to corrosion. The corrosion resistance results from an even layer of crystalline iron hydrogen phosphate forming on the high phosphorus content iron, which serves to protect it, and also the effects of the local Delhi climate, which alternates from wet to dry.  The name of the city of Delhi is thought to be based on a legend associated with the pillar.
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  13. Alexander Column, Russia

    The Alexander Column also known as Alexandrian Column, is the focal point of Palace Square in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The monument was erected after the Russian victory in the war with Napoleon’s France. Named after Emperor Alexander I, who ruled Russia between 1801 and 1825, the column is an interesting piece of architecture and engineering.
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  14. San Jacinto Monument, Texas, US

    The San Jacinto Monument is a 567.31-foot (172.92 m) high column located on the Houston Ship Channel in Harris County, Texas near the city of La Porte. The monument is topped with a 220-ton star that commemorates the site of the Battle of San Jacinto, the decisive battle of the Texas Revolution. The monument, constructed between 1936 and 1939 and dedicated on April 21, 1939, is the world’s tallest monumental column and is part of the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site. By comparison, the Washington Monument is 555.427 feet (169.294 m) tall. The column is an octagonal shaft faced with Texas Cordova shellstone, topped with a 34-foot (10 m) Lone Star, the symbol of Texas. Visitors can take an elevator to the monument’s observation deck for a view of Houston and the USS Texas. The San Jacinto Museum of History is located inside the base of the monument, and focuses on the history of the Battle of San Jacinto and Texas culture and heritage.
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  15. Trajan’s Column, Italy

    Trajan’s Column is a Roman triumphal column in Rome, Italy, which commemorates Roman emperor Trajan’s victory in the Dacian Wars. It was probably constructed under the supervision of the architect Apollodorus of Damascus at the order of the Roman Senate. It is located in Trajan’s Forum, built near the Quirinal Hill, north of the Roman Forum. Completed in 113 AD, the freestanding column is most famous for its spiral bas relief, that artistically describes the epic wars between the Romans and Dacians (101–102 and 105–106). Its design has inspired numerous victory columns, both ancient and modern. The structure is about 30 meters (98 ft) in height, 35 meters (125 ft.) including its large pedestal. The shaft is made from a series of 20 colossal Carrara marble drums, each weighing about 32 tons, with a diameter of 3.7 meters (11 ft). The 190-metre (625 ft) frieze winds around the shaft 23 times. Inside the shaft, a spiral staircase of 185 stairs provides access to a viewing platform at the top. The capital block of Trajan’s Column weighs 53.3 tons, which had to be lifted to a height of 34 m. Ancient coins indicate preliminary plans to top the column with a statue of a bird, probably an eagle, but after construction a statue of Trajan was put in place; this statue disappeared in the Middle Ages. On December 4, 1587, the top was crowned by Pope Sixtus V with a bronze figure of St. Peter, which remains to this day.
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  16. St. George Church Atlas Column, Hamburg, Germany

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