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Trevi Fountain, Rome
Trevi Fountain history
This unique fountain has a long history. Its origins date back to ancient Roman times and when it served as the terminal point of the aqueduct Aqua Virgo. Aqua Virgo translates to “the Virgins Water” and derives from an old Roman legend.
Post ancient period
After the fall of the Roman Empire, the once so great Aqua Virgo fell into a ruinous state. It was out of action for almost a millennium until Pope Nicholas V ordered its restoration in 1453. From that point and on, the aqueduct was known as “Aqua Vergine”.
During this restoration, Pope Nicholas V made sure that the Roman custom of having fountain at the endpoint of an aqueduct was kept. He made sure a small, simple basin was built as the terminal point of the aqueduct.
Later, during the reign of Pope Urban VIII, the fountain was deemed insufficiently dramatic. The famous sculptor, Gian Lorenzo Bernini was assigned to the project, but it was all put on hold when the Pope died.
The planning for a new fountain on the site began again 100 years later. This time under the Roman architect Nicola Salvi, whose work was inspired by the sketches left by Bernini. The fountain took 30 years to finish and it stood completed in year 1762.
Why visit the Trevi Fountain ?
Few places in the world have a larger number of beautiful fountains than Rome and the Trevi Fountain is really the crown jewel in the collection. The Trevi fountain is not only Rome’s largest Baroque fountain; it is also highly regarded as the most beautiful one.
Dominates the square
One of the fountains most striking features is its size. It stands a massive 25 meters tall and almost 20 meters wide. The fact that the fountain is built in a small square makes its size even more imposing.
However, what the fountain is most known for is of course its beautiful architecture. The theme of the fountain is the taming and the power of water. The thundering water tumbles forward, over rocks and petrified vegetation, in a mighty fashion. Many say it’s the greatest show they’ve seen in a while and when you look at it, it’s easy to understand why.
The Trevi Fountain is dominated by a several large statues. The very center of the fountain is dominated by a man standing in a large shell chariot. This statue depicts the Roman god of the water and the seas, Neptune - also known as Poseidon in Greek mythology. The chariot is pulled by two sea horses. One of them is calm and submissive while the other one is impatient and restless. The creature’s different temper is said to symbolize the fluctuating moods of the sea.
Each one of the horses is guided by a triton – a mermaid like creature who formed the escort of marine divinities in the Greek mythology. The creatures do not only add symbolic meaning to the fountain with the contrast in their mood and poses, but they also provide a symmetrical balance.
Visitors to the Trevi Fountain will also see a statue of a woman in the niches on either side of Neptune. The left one carries a seashell full of fruit, representing abundance. The other one lets a snake drink water from her cup, represents salubrity. Together they are said to represent different aspects of sea.
The upper levels of the fountain shows several long inscriptions. They are all written in Latin and celebrates the ones responsible for the construction. The one at the very top says:
“Clement the 12th, Supreme Pontiff, embellished with splendid refinement the Aqua Virgo, esteemed for its abundance and wholesomeness, in the year of the Lord 1735, sixth of his office.”
The lower one states:
“Benedict the 14th, Supreme Pontiff, brought it to completion.”
The fountain pool
Anyone looking will see lots of coins. A traditional legend holds that if visitors throw a coin into the fountain, they are ensured a return to Rome. A modern interpretation is that throwing two coins into the water coins will lead to a new romance and three will ensure either a marriage or divorce.
An estimated 3,000 euros are thrown into the fountain each day. The money gets collected each morning and gets donated to charity organizations.
A popular place
Today, the Trevi Fountain is one of Rome's most famous tourist sites. It is much more than just a fountain, but a fantastic work of baroque art. It is regarded as a true jewel of water and stone.
Trevi Fountain location
The Trevi Fountain is located in Rome, Italy. The fountain is located in central parts of the city, close the Column of Marcus Aurelius. For the exact location of Trevi Fountain, check out the location map to the right.
Trevi Fountain resources
The great Trevi Fountain. (GFDL) David Illif.
The Trevi Fountain. © Mollye Knox.
The fountain inscriptions. (GFDL) David Illif.
Trevi fountain. (public domain)
Interactive location map. For a larger and more detailed map, check out our Italy map.
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