Heliopolis [Gr.,=city of the sun], ancient city, N Egypt, in the Nile delta, 6 mi (10 km) below modern Cairo. It was noted as the center of sun worship, and its god Ra or Re was the state deity until Thebes became capital (c.2100 B.C.). The god Amon was then joined with Ra as Amon-Ra or Amon-Re (see Egyptian religion). Under the New Empire (c.1570 B.C.-c.1085 B.C.), Heliopolis was the seat of the viceroy for N Egypt. The obelisks called Cleopatra's Needles were erected there. Its schools of philosophy and astronomy declined after the founding of Alexandria in 332 B.C., but the city never wholly lost importance until the Christian era. The Egyptian name was On; little of the city remains.
Heliopolis, Syria: see Baalbek.
biblical On

Ancient holy city, Egypt. The city, which is now mainly ruins lying northeast of Cairo, was the seat of worship of the Egyptian sun god Ra. Its great temple of Ra was second in size only to that of Amon at Thebes, and its priesthood wielded great influence. In the New Kingdom, the temple became the repository of royal records. The city's surviving monument is the obelisk of Sesostris I, the oldest in existence. Two obelisks erected there by Thutmose III and known as Cleopatra's Needles now stand on the Thames River embankment in London and in Central Park, New York City.

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