Trevi Fountain in Rome

Walking along the streets of Rome to the north of the Colosseum, you can (and must!) go to a small square - Piazza di Trevi (Trevi Square). An unusual open-air theater is located here, which, perhaps, could only be created by the inhabitants of the Eternal City. Take the best seat in the amphitheater - its role is played by the steps of buildings, the facades of which overlook the square. From the elevation, the "scene" is clearly visible and every sound arriving from there is heard. Its decoration is the façade of the 16th century palace skilfully finished in Baroque style. 

The action unfolds on the stage. The mighty Neptune appears from the depths on the chariot in the form of a sea shell. The formidable lord of the ocean regally extends his hand as if pacifying the rebellious streams. The water flows down a cascade of roughly hewn stones into a huge basin that occupies almost the entire Piazza di Trevi.

To the right of Neptune is the goddess of abundance, to the left is an allegorical figure personifying health and well-being. Many centuries ago, this source of clean water in the city was really necessary for health and life. The hymn to water in allegorical form is symbolized by the majestic composition of the Trevi Fountain.

History of the Trevi Fountain in Rome

The Trevi Fountain in its present form appeared in the 18th century. However, its story began much earlier. In the 1st century BC there was an important task  - to provide the rapidly growing city with drinking water. The feeding source was discovered by the people of Marcus Agrippa, the commander and son-in-law of Emperor Octavian Augustus, a dozen kilometers from Rome. An aqueduct was built and used for several centuries. This aqueduct ended with a simple stone bowl located in this square.

By the end of the Middle Ages, the hydraulic system lost its relevance and was abandoned. In 1640, Pope Urban VIII commissioned the architect Lorenzo Bernini to design a fountain in order to immortalize the iconic place. Bernini is a sculptor, artist, founder of the Baroque style in sculpture, a theatergoer (that's why the square turned into a theater, a fountain into a stage, and tourists into spectators). The work on the sketches was completed by the master's apprentice with the characteristic surname Carlo Fontana.

However, after the death of the pontiff, the successors showed no interest in the project. Only Pope Clement XII in 1732, based on the results of selection from the famous architects of that time, gave Nicolo Salvi the right to complete the work begun ninety years before. However, Salvi himself was not destined to live up to the grand opening of his creation. The work lasted for three decades and not only included the transformation of a humble water source into a grandiose architectural and hydrotechnical structure, but also affected the facade of the Poli Palace, which was located behind it.

The reconstruction of the palace, which belonged to a noble Roman family, was directed by the architect Luigi Vanvitelli. And the sculptures were made according to the sketches of Bernini. The fountain was opened by Pope Clement XIII in 1762, and then much later, in 2015, it was renovated.

Composition of the Trevi Fountain in Rome

The Trevi Fountain is the largest in Rome. The Baroque building, which occupies almost the entire Piazza di Trevi, is 25.9 meters high and 49.8 meters wide. The annual water consumption is 80,000 cubic meters. The authors' concept organically connected the fountain with the palace facade facing the square. The Roman deity Neptune (according to another version - the titan Ocean) rises above the "rocks" of travertine.

The extraordinarily realistic marble sculpture stands out against the background of the semi-rotunda inscribed in the risalit of the Poli Palace. The chariot of the Lord of Water is being carried by two seahorses allegorically representing the excitement and calm at sea. The path is paved by mythical creatures - tritons who blowing horns made of sea shells. Water flows in jets over the stones, laid out according to the principle of cascading fountains.

For the sake of  stylistic unity, the palace behind the fountain underwent reconstruction. The four-column risalit is decorated with two bas-reliefs. On the right is an illustration of Agrippa's hike in search of a source of drinking water. On the left is a relief depicting the moment when the source was discovered. Above the cornices of the Corinthian columns there are statues that embody the blessings donated by water: "Gifts of Autumn", "Abundance of Fruits", "Delights of the Gardens", "Grain Harvest" (according to another version, 4 figures symbolize the seasons).

The facade is crowned with the coat of arms of Pope Clement XII who successfully revived the idea of ​​creating the fountain. A plate with a commemorative inscription in honor of the opening in 1762 is placed under the coat of arms.

Interesting Facts About the Trevi Fountain

Many tourists throwing coins into the magnificent Trevi Fountain in Rome do not even suspect that it is still supplied with water from the ancient Aqua Virgo aqueduct built in the 1st century BC. Water flows through it from the purest mountain springs and is famous for its freshness and excellent taste. This is how organically different eras are intertwined in Rome!

Another interesting fact: the Poli palace, to which the Trevi fountain adjoins, in the 19th century was the home of the Russian princess Zinaida Volkonskaya, the mistress of the famous literary and musical salon in the city. 

Local authorities have calculated that the fountain is more profitable than many museums in the Italian capital. In a year, an amount equivalent to € 1.4 million is collected from the bottom of the bowl.

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