Do you know we have over 2,000 fountains in Rome?
Yes! You read that right.
There are also small drinking fountains all over the city.
Read on to find out why we have so many beautiful fountains in Rome, and where you can see the best ones!
On this page, you'll find:
Rome, Italy is known for its many wonderful fountains, which can be found throughout the Eternal City.
The main reason we have so many fountains goes back to Ancient Rome: Aqueducts.
In Ancient Rome, eleven Roman aqueducts brought fresh cool water into the city from the mountains around Rome.
The water flowing through these aqueducts provided fresh water for the people to use in their daily life, but also to feed decorative fountains and huge bath complexes.
In the fading days of the Roman Empire in the 5th and 6th centuries, the aqueducts were destroyed and this water supply was cut off.
For centuries, Roman citizens had only the Tiber river as their water source for everything from cooking to bathing.
However, from the early Renaissance onward, these Roman aqueducts were repaired and their termini (endpoints) restored.
The Renaissance and subsequent Baroque era were times of creation, and popes vied to leave their legacies in as many places as they could.
This sometimes meant having fountains made in their name which is why you will find so many beautiful fountains in the Italian capital.
Walking around the Eternal City you are likely to come upon some of the most famous, iconic fountains in Rome.
The Trevi Fountain represents a high point in the Baroque movement.
It is located in the Piazza di Trevi, which is the junction of three roads where a Roman aqueduct once supplied water to the city. (In Latin, "tre vie" means 3 streets.)
The Rome Trevi Fountain project initially started in 1629, but it was the victim of budget problems and varying levels of interest from pope to pope.
This meant that the project stalled and was restarted several times before Italian architect Nicola Salvi finally designed the current version in the 18th century.
The Baroque design of the Fontana di Trevi is spectacular and stands 86ft/26m high, featuring a wealth of detail.
The Trevi Fountain consists of a triumphal arch with mythical and allegorical figures, natural rock formations and gushing fountains.
A tourist favorite, the tradition of throwing coins into the fountain has existed for years.
To guarantee your return to Rome you must throw your coin with your back to the fountain!
World famous and worthy of a visit in its own right, this Roman fountain is a must-see landmark.
The Fontana della Barcaccia ('Fountain of the Ugly Boat') is a spectacular (and if I may say mis-named) fountain in Piazza di Spagna at the base of one of Rome's most famous landmarks, the Spanish Steps.
This Baroque fountain makes for a great backdrop in your photos of Piazza di Spagna, with the design of a half-sunken boat inspired by a legend of the river Tiber flooding and leaving a small boat in the center of the piazza.
The architect for this wonderfully sculptural fountain was Pietro Bernini, who worked on it with his more famous son Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
The fountain predates its more famous neighbouring landmark.
It was completed in 1629, almost a century before the idea for the Spanish Steps was even conceived!
The Fontana del Tritone can be found in Piazza Barberini, named for Pope Urban VIII, whose family name was Barberini, and whose palazzo is just behind this piazza.
Pope Urban VIII famously sought to erect a fountain in each of Rome's piazzas, of which this stunning example is one.
The Triton Fountain depicts the sea-god Triton on top of a group of four dolphins.
The Fontana del Tritone is not typical of city fountains and is closer in design to those found in villa garden settings, which was a fresh approach for the time.
Though now surrounded by taller buildings than when it was erected in 1643, the Triton Fountain still makes a spectacular impact.
This is testament to the design skills of its creator, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, one of Rome's most famous Baroque sculptors, whose name appears a lot on this page!
Like so many of Rome's famous fountains, the Fountain of the Four Rivers in Piazza Navona is the work of Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
In fact, he designed two out of the three fountains found in Piazza Navona.
An unusual design, the fountain has a base featuring four river gods and a copy of an Egyptian obelisk above them.
Finished in 1651, the fountain was commissioned by Pope Innocent X, whose family palace faced this attractive piazza (it is today the Brazilian embassy.)
The spectacle provided by adding the obelisk made the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi a rather revolutionary design when unveiled, the combination of Baroque architecture and ancient Egyptian being unique.
Today, the fountain is undoubtedly one of Rome's most beautiful and most famous.
The famous Maderno Fountain by Carlo Maderno dates from the early 1600's, while the later Bernini Fountain was completed in 1677.
The fountains provide excellent photo opportunities with the basilica as a backdrop.
The magnificent Fontana dell'Acqua Paola is one of the most jaw-dropping fountains in Rome and one of my favorites.
Also known as Il Fontanone (the Big One), it marks the end of the Aqua Paola Aqueduct, restored by Pope Paul V.
It's also the backdrop for the first scene of the Oscar-winning movie "The Great Beauty", La Grande Bellezza by Paolo Fiorentino, a movie I highly recommend for anyone who loves Rome.
Designed by Giovanni Fontana, the fountain is a spectacular construction built from marble rescued from the ruins of a nearby Roman temple.
It features a poetic inscription dedicated to Pope Paul V (Borghese.)
The 3- arched design with large basin in front formed the inspiration for arguably Rome's most famous fountain, the Trevi Fountain.
While the original fountain was finished in 1575, the version we see now was commissioned by Pope Clement X1 in 1711, who had the four dolphins as the base supporting the obelisk added.
The marble dolphins are not the originals, which can be seen in the Museum of Rome, but copies added in 1886.
The combination of the fountain in Piazza della Rotonda with the Pantheon makes for a spectacular scene.
A later example of a Rome fountain, the Fountain of the Water Nymphs was built in 1888, with the four bronze sculptures of the nymphs or Naiads of Roman legend added in 1901.
The nymphs are accompanied by the Roman God Glaucus, a 1912 addition, and the fountain occupies a central spot in Piazza della Repubblica near Termini train station.
The Fontana Delle Naiadi is perhaps best visited after sunset when it is spectacularly illuminated with LED lights.
For lovers of the Art Nouveau movement, this famous fountain is a must and is considered the finest of its form in Rome.
Some of these smaller fountains could also be considered iconic, as they are so often photographed and well-loved by Romans and tourists alike.
While you may not come across these fountains naturally, they are worth looking out for as they are all beautiful in their own way, and they will add to your understanding of Rome and its history.
Art historians have proposed many theories about the design of the Fontana della Tartarughe, yet none are certain.
We do know that this charming turtle fountain was built in the 1580's, with the four famous turtles being added some 80 years later, probably designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
The fountain occupies a prime spot in Piazza Mattei in the Jewish Ghetto, not far from Campo dei Fiori.
It is forever linked with a legend surrounding a bankrupt Duke who supposedly built the fountain overnight to impress the father of his desired bride.
With a wonderfully evocative design, while not one of the city's most famous fountains, Fontana della Tartarughe is worth the visit to Piazza Mattei as a prime example of monumental fountain sculpture.
A tourist favorite thanks to the quirky design, Gian Lorenzo Bernini's Fountain of the Bees is among the more interesting of his sculptures.
Featuring a giant clamshell with three bees as the fountain heads, it was completed in 1644.
This fountain was built to provide a watering trough for horses as opposed to the usual clean water service for residents, and includes an inscription citing Pope Urban VIII, who commissioned the fountain.
Built in 1924 and located centrally in the Piazza Mincio, the Fontana Delle Rane takes its name from the 12 ornamental frogs that act as the fountainhead.
Recently restored, a few details mark this fountain as a tribute to the great sculptor Bernini, who built so many other of Rome's famous fountains.
Note the bees, a direct reference to Bernini's Fountain of the Bees, and the frogs on the upper level that are placed similarly to the turtles he for the Fountain of the Turtles.
The fountain is much-photographed thanks to its ornate details.
One of three fountains in the Piazza Navona, the Fontana del Nettuno is one of Rome's most evocative.
Featuring a dramatic sculpture of the god Neptune, it was built in 1574 by Giacomo della Porta, although without the figures we see today.
The statue of Neptune, the Roman God of the sea, was added in 1878 and sees him fighting with an octopus.
The nymphs, cupids, and other creatures that adorn the wide basin represent popular mythology and add to the drama of the Neptune Fountain.
On the other side of Piazza Navona is the Fountain of the Moor, or La Fontana del Moro, which features a Moor or African as its main focus.
Despite its nickname, the statue is also often said to represent the sea god Neptune (who features in the fountain on the opposite side of the same square).
Both the fountains in the square are from the hand of the same designer and sculptor, Giacomo della Porta, and the similarities are striking.
Based on a design by Giacomo della Porta from 1575, the Fontana del Moro initially featured just the dolphins and the four Tritons when it was first sculpted (although the originals have been replaced with copies).
The Moor was added in 1653 according to a new design by Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
The fountain in Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere is widely believed to be the oldest of Rome's many fountains.
Featuring many additions since its construction, the date of origin remains unknown, though historians believe a fountain has sat on this spot since the 8th century.
The fountain we see today was designed by Renaissance architect Donato Bramante.
The fountain was later embellished by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Carlo Fontana.
The backdrop of the Church of Santa Maria in Trastevere makes a beautiful scene and is a favorite space for locals and tourists alike to gather, especially at sunset.
The fountain was rebuilt completely in 1930.
One of Rome's lesser-known fountains is the Fountain of the Small Boat, called the Navicella, in the pretty Piazza della Navicella.
Although the relatively small fountain was erected as late as 1931, the boat sculpture is an ancient Roman artefact and is of interest historically.
The boat is an homage to the Roman sailors who lived in this neighborhood.
These were the men who, among other duties, managed the huge awnings that covered the Colosseum in inclement weather or when it was hot.
The plain and understated design is unusual among Rome's fountains, yet this unique attribute makes the Fountain of the Small Boat so appealing.
Take note of the basin if you can. There's a lovely fish mosaic at the bottom.
La Fontana del Mascherone, or Big Mask Fountain is worth a visit especially because it's on the beautiful via Giulia in the Campo dei Fiori neighborhood.
I actually find this fountain a little jarring but many people love it.
Legend says that on certain holidays in the 17th and 18th centuries, wine spouted from the fountain instead of water.
In 1870, the year Italy became a unified country, the city of Rome began installing drinking fountains around Rome.
They are called "fontanelle", which means little fountains, but their more endearing nickname is "nasoni", plural for "nasone", which means big nose.
Most of these little fountains look like fire hydrants with a spout, but some of them have interesting animal-shaped spouts, sometimes in the form of a dragon or wolf.
Only 3 fontanelle in Rome still have their original dragon-head spouts:
Besides these nasoni, there is another set of drinking fountains in Rome, all designed by Roman architect Pietro Lombardi in 1927.
These little fountains were meant to represent their respective rione, or neighborhood.
Some of the more interesting nasoni and Pietro Lombardi fountains in Rome include:
The fascinating Fountain of the Porter is one of six 'talking statues' found in Rome.
Roman citizens since the sixteenth century posted anonymous messages at these 'talking statues' which are often satirical, humorous and critical in tone.
Unsurprisingly the targets of these messages were commonly the rulers of the capital.
The Fontana del Facchino is one of several 'talking fountains' in the city.
The Porter in this example, which was installed initially not far away from where it stands now, is a water carrier, complete with a barrel filled from the Tiber.
This was a popular profession before the popes began restoring the aqueducts in the 16th century.
The face of the man is disfigured because some people believed the statue was of Martin Luther and threw stones at it.
The curious and often overlooked Fontana dei Libri is one of nine fountains commissioned to architect Pietro Lombardi in the 1920's to represent Rome's rioni, or districts.
(There was initially a 10th fountain, but it was destroyed in WWII.)
The design features two opposing sets of books that act as the fountain heads and is set within a wall in a narrow traffic-free street.
The books represent the university La Sapienza, which is the building it's attached to, and the deer represents Saint Eustace, a Christian martyr for whom this district is named.
This is without a doubt one of my favorite drinking fountains in Rome!
One of the nine fountains designed by Pietro Lombardi to represent the nine districts of Rome, the curious Fountain of the Artists can be found in Via Margutta, a street famous for artists and where intellectuals would meet.
The artist's easels form the fountain's base, with two faces representing the artist as the fountain heads.
Note that one face is smiling, the other distinctly not.
These are typical theater masks.
The unusual and interesting Fountain of the Barrelsis another of the Lombardi rione fountains and was made in 1927 like the others.
It is a monument to the porters who would unload barrels of wine from ships docked at the nearby Porto di Ripeta, which was demolished in the late 19th century.
The fountain features a large barrel as the base and is set into an alcove of a building.
A monumental fountain is a fountain at the city end of an aqueduct, which is called the terminus.
You may not have realized it but we have already mentioned two monumental fountains in Rome: the Trevi Fountain and the Fountain of Acqua Paola.
There is one more:
The large and imposing Fountain of Moses was completed in 1588, commissioned by Pope Sixtus V.
It is an unusual design with a figure of Moses in the center, flanked with two interesting and detailed sculpted reliefs.
A inscription on top tells of the building of the Acqua Felice (Felice was Pope Sixtus' name) aqueduct which used parts of three ancient aqueducts to transport clean water to the fountain.
It was designed by prominent architect Domenico Fontana, who worked primarily in Rome around this time and was the favorite architect of the pope.
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