Great Fountains of Rome

If you visit the Piazza del Campidoglio in Rome you will find three fountains of interest. In this imposing square, these fountains each have a particularly interesting history. They haven’t actually been in place in their current setting for that long, but each fountain has had a rich and varied background. In fact, the sculptures you’ll see on these three fountains can be traced back to the early days of Christian Rome.

The first of the three fountains that you’ll probably notice in the piazza is the central large fountain that leads up to the magnificent Palace of the Senators. Although originally planned by Michelangelo when he laid out designs for the piazza, the fountain was only constructed in the reign of Sixtus V who diverted a water supply from the Acqua Felice that could then supply a fountain. Original plans had decreed that this fountain would contain the figure of Jove as its centerpiece; instead it was built around the figure of Minerva who stands as the figurehead of Rome. Minerva’s statue has partly been restored in modern times but the torso was brought to Rome from Cori so it is of great historical significance.

In front of the Minerva fountain you’ll find the second fountain-decorated with the sculptures of two river gods. These statues are of great historical interest; unlike many lost treasures they have survived without burial in all of the turbulent times since Rome’s downfall. Initially they were located in front of Aurelian’s Temple of the Sun but they have since been moved around various settings in Rome before settling in their current location. Like the Palace of the Senators before which they stand, much of this fountain is constructed of travertine. This fountain seamlessly melds into the palace, as if it had been placed there at the dawn of time.

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