Rome Water Fountains

Rome has more fountains than any other city in the world and it has been that way for thousands of years. For most tourists water constructions are merely a matter of decoration – every city has them, they are very nice, so what? However, in the city of seven hills you will see fountains in the different light. Fountains of all sizes and shapes, antique, medieval, baroque, renaissance and modern celebrate the pristine water element framed in stone. Rome water fountains became classical models for the fountains all around the world. In Rome you’ll see them everywhere and without a doubt they may give away some interesting facts and secrets about the city.

Some History

Let’s face the fact that is forgotten by contemporaries - water is the life-blood for all the living creatures. For Ancient Rome water was a life-giving substance and a precious gift of gods.  Water was treasured and valued and when Roman architects built the first aqueducts it was a grandiose progress for those times. Just imagine that it was the first water “pipe” system, which means water was provided from lakes and rivers directly to the hundreds of basins, fountains and pools. What an advancement! The vessels holding the sacred waters were important points for the city and no wonder had been lavishly decorated. Fountains were important so much they even had a god of their won – Fontus, the god of wells and springs!

So, more than 2000 years Rome became the city of fountains with its 9 aqueducts, 39 monumental fountains and more than 500 public basins. And hey we don’t take into account many private houses that had small fountains in the courtyard or in the atriums of the wealthy patricians. Only about 10 ancient fountains have survived through the centuries till today.

After the fall of the Roman Empire fountains became totally neglected. In the medieval times most of the basins were either ruined completely or dismantled to adjust them to giving water to cattle. Most of the survived ones were created much later after the medieval epoch with the arrival of the Renaissance and Baroque periods.

Fountains regained their importance in the 15th century. The earliest one for that period, which can still be seen today in the Italian capital city is the Fountain in Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere. It dates back to 1499 and is located on the spot of a former Roman fountain.  This fountain became a classical prototype not only for Rome, but for the whole western world fountains. That’s why from Paris to Vienna we still can see these beautiful circular platters on a pedestal pouring water into basins below in thousand different variations.

The 17th-18th centuries were the time for grand reconstruction of the ruined Roman aqueducts and the time for creating the new ones. That was the golden age of the Roman fountains indeed. A bit later Baroque style widely uses fountains to fill them with allegorical figures, emotion and movement, but unlike ancient times water now played secondary role helping sculptures to look more dramatic and impressive. 

Top Must-See Fountains of Rome 

We won’t take your time describing too many, but let’s have a look at the masterpieces you can’t miss on while enjoying your vacation. 

The Trevi Fountain

The most fabulous fountain known far and wide is the Trevi Fountain. It is the largest and very spectacular Roman masterpiece of Baroque sculpture by Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini and by law it is the place of pilgrimage for every Roman tourist.

The composition is of 26 meters high and 20 meters wide. A god Neptune with his chariot-shell drawn by the sea-horses is in the middle of the composition. Have you too seen Fellini’s movie “Dolce Vita” and Anita’s Ekberg swimming in the Trevi Fountain? Welcome to the club! In case you want to repeat that, just remember that this innocent act on your mind will cost you 200$. We have warned you. 

The Fountain of the Four Rivers (1648 – 1651)

Located in the Piazza Navona this fountain is the next masterpiece among the best fountains of Rome. It was also designed by Bernini and is dedicated to four big rivers from different parts of the world - The River Ganges of Asia, the Rio de la Plata of America, the Danube of Europe and the Nile of Africa.

Like the Trevi and Barcaccia Fountains, the water to the Fountain of the Four Rivers comes from the same Aqua Virgo aqueduct. 

The famous Piazza Navona embraces other two famous fountains: the Fontana del Moro (unfortunately, strongly vandalized in 2011) and Fontana del Nettune.

The Triton Fountain

This masterpiece was designed by Bernini likewise and is situated in Piazza Barberini (1642). As you see it is very hard to find a central place in Rome without Bernini’s touch since he was extremely popular as an artist and sculptor for his times, known also for being connected to the high and mighty.

The Triton Fountain is a baroque sculpture with the central figure of Triton, who is blowing a horn to calm down the sea (inspired by Ovid and his Metamorphoses).

Tips for Tourists

Apart from the big and spectacular fountains the city is absolutely full of fountains of smaller sizes and taps. For us as tourist there is one piece of really good news here. You can drink water from almost all of the taps you find on your way, because they have the same water that is provided to Roman citizens' homes.

Basically, we have two types of water coolers around the city: nasoni, with noses sticking out, and fontanelle – the more artistic ones against the walls. So, all you need is to have a refillable container/bottle to be with you and quench your thirst whenever you feel like it!  

Stay safe and well-hydrated! In case of any concern about the quality of the water you can visit this website, which shows all the fountains that belong to the regulated water system of Rome:

Today thanks to its rich past Rome possesses more than 2000 fountains! If you also have become a fountain lover, share it with us at our Facebook page, let's make a collection together!

You might like these