Rome Sights to See - Fountains of Rome
The fountains of
Rome, the Eternal City, like the city itself, have an ancient and
glorious history. Examples range from the Eternal City's glory days in
the 1st century AD to its even more glorious days during the Renaissance to the 18th century and beyond.
Other cities can offer many fountains that are barely beyond the
utilitarian. But not so in Rome. Rome cannot settle for the utilitarian, but must
have a water display that is a work of art,
because Rome is itself one enormous museum.
is unquestionably the most famous, but it has many
competitors for the attention of Rome's many visitors.
The Fountain of Triton (Fontana del Tritone)
is just one stellar
example. Designed by the renowned artist and architect Bernini,
in 1642, it is a masterpiece
in the Baroque style. The central figure is a merman (the male
equivalent of a mermaid), seated on a giant clamshell and flanked by
Near the Spanish Steps
is another Bernini work, his first in the genre.
Displaying a half-sunken ship, the Barcaccia
was a progenitor of the
in outdoor sculpture.
There is the Fountain of
the Moor (Fontana del
Moro), also by Bernini,
yet another example of a sea-oriented theme. Sited at the southern tip
of the Piazza Navona - itself worth a visit - the fountain depicts
surrounded by his subjects. Four Tritons
expel water as sea
creatures frolic below.
The Fountain of Neptune
adjacent to The Moor
was a 19th century
addition that features many of the same elements, but in a vastly
One fountain not designed by Bernini, but clearly influenced by his
style, is the Fontana
dei Tritoni by Francesco
Bizzaccheri located in the Boario Forum in
front of the Church of
St. Maria. Set between the Temple of Male
Fortune and the Temple
of Vesta, it was built in 1715 at the dawn of
the Age of Reason.
Two powerful Tritons kneel on a large outcropping of
rock and support a basin from which the fountain's water shoots.
But without a doubt the Fontana di Trevi, the Trevi Fountain, is
foremost example of the genre in Rome. Originally built in the 1st
century AD, it was re-built between 1732 and 1751 at the orders of Pope
At 85 feet (26m) high and 65 feet wide (20m) it is the largest fountain
in the city, and among the most beautiful. Sited at the rear of the
Palace of the
Dukes of Poli, it displays a familiar subject: Neptune,
but this time riding a clamshell chariot behind two horses, amid
Tritons and flanked by the gods of Health and Wealth.
It is here at the Trevi that hopeful tourists toss coins into the base,
prompted by the legend that those who throw "three coins in the
will one day return to Rome. The coins represent a healthy sum for the
city's charities. Clever marketing was not unknown even in centuries
is often credited as the designer, but there are elements
that suggest Bernini had a hand in its creation. The water source is
from the Aqua
the name of a legend depicted in the
fountain itself. A virgin is said to have offered water to thirsty
No visit to Rome could be considered complete without seeing at least a
few of its many famed fountains, venues providing examples of outdoor
sculpture at its finest.
the Eternal City