The Fountain of the Four Rivers in Rome


The Fountain of the Four Rivers by Giovanni Bernini is one of the most beautiful in Italy. The fountain is in Rome, on Piazza Navona.

This magnificent building was created by order of Pope Innocent of the XNUMXth century. baroque style. The Fountain of the Four Rivers was supposed to become the final element of the architectural ensemble of Palazzo Pamphilj - the ancestral estate of the Pamphilj family, of which Innocent X was the head. A competition for the best project was announced, the closest to victory was Francesco Borromini. While Bernini was not even allowed to participate in the competition. The fact is that the career of an architect was in jeopardy at that time.

According to Bernini's project, a bell tower was erected in St. Peter's Basilica. However, cracks began to appear in the structure. The construction was stopped, the already built part was demolished. The reasons for this incident were investigated, the fault of the architect was not proven. However, this incident left a negative imprint on Bernini's career.

How was Bernini able to present his project to the Pope and win the competition? There are two versions of this. According to the first version, Bernini was helped by his patron, the husband of the Pope's niece. He brought a one and a half meter model, made of silver, to Innocent X himself. He was delighted with the work of the master and accepted his work. According to the second version, a woman put in the word for Bernini.

Olympia Maidalkini, aka Donna Olympia, is an influential lady, daughter-in-law of Innocent X and his mistress. Either way, Bernini's project was approved and construction began. It took three years to create the masterpiece, from 1648 to 1651. The construction of the fountain turned out to be a very expensive project. Innocent X even had to introduce a new tax.

Description of the Fountain of the Four Rivers

The Fountain of the Four Rivers is a sculptural composition of figures symbolizing the four main rivers in the four parts of the world. There is a powerful obelisk in the center of the composition. For a long time it was believed that it was brought from Egypt by the emperor Caracalla. However, recent studies have proven that the obelisk was created in Rome. Its height is 16 meters, it has four sides, on which the rulers of Rome are depicted in the images of the pharaohs. The soaring obelisk signifies the victory of the Roman Catholic Church over pagan beliefs. At the top of the monument there is a sculpture of a dove with an olive branch in its beak - a symbol of hope and part of the coat of arms of the Pamphilj clan.

It is interesting to read:  Vatican Gardens

The drawing of the sculptural group was created by Bernini, but his students embodied the idea. They managed to make the composition lively and dynamic, breathe power and expression into the images of the gods. Africa corresponds to the god of the Nile, created by Antonio Fancelli. America - La Plata River, sculpted by Francesco Baratta. Allegory of Asia - God Ganges by Claude Poussin. The main river in Europe is the Danube. The author is Antonio Lucheya.

The face of the god Nile is covered with hands. There are two ways to explain this gesture. The first version - with such a gesture, Bernini wanted to express disrespect for his opponent Borromini, whose work (the Church of Sant'Agnese) God looks at. According to the second version, at the time of the creation of the fountain, the source of the Nile was not yet known. The god Danube holds a scroll. It depicts the heraldry of the Pamphilj family and the emblems of the papacy. America's prosperity is symbolized by the coins under the La Plata sculpture. God Ganges holds an oar in his hands as a reference to active Indian navigation.

The sculptural composition is complemented by figures of flora and fauna of the personified countries. These are the Danube flower fields, cacti and crocodiles typical of the La Plata Valley. From the African side, a lion drinks water from a palm tree. The Ganges paddle wraps around the Asian symbol - the dragon. A sea serpent and a dolphin are swimming in the bowl of the fountain. Also, the fountain is decorated with vines, flowers and fruits - symbols of wealth, prosperity and abundance.

Water in the Fountain of the Four Rivers comes through the aqueduct Aqua Virgo, built in the 1st century BC. e. Bernini's competitors claimed that the fountain was designed incorrectly and the water would not be able to flow. The architect was very worried before the first launch, but the worry turned out to be in vain. Like centuries ago, the fountain works properly and delights the inhabitants and guests of Rome.

Today, tourists are attracted not only by the stunning architecture of the fountain, but also by the many street performers, mimes, musicians and artists who have chosen the Navona square. It is customary to throw a coin into the bowl of the fountain to return to Rome. In winter, a Christmas market is held here. Fans of Dan Brown's work will remember that in the novel "Angels and Demons" the fountain played a prominent role.

Getting there

The Fountain of the Four Rivers is located in the historic center of Rome. It is located a little distance from bus stops, but a walk to it will be a pleasure.

It is interesting to read:  National Museum of Rome

By public transport

You can take a bus from the main metro stations to the fountain. From the station in Piazza Barberini (Piazza Barberini) bus no. 492. From Termini station (line A) bus no. 70. From Colosseo station (line B) take bus no. 87. You can also get to Piazza Navona by bus lines no. 30, 81, 116 and 628.

Directions from Barbeni Square to Navona Square by bus number 492

By taxi

In Rome, however, as in any tourist city, you should only use legal taxis. These are white cars with a license number on them. You can call a taxi by phone, through the app, or get into the car at the official parking lot. Uber operates in Rome, local popular taxis are Cooperative Radiotaxi, Cosmo, La Capitale.

Video Fountain of the Four Rivers