21 Epic Fountains in Rome You Need to See
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We recently visited Rome as a family and were blown away by all the fabulous fountains we found in the Italian capital. While everyone’s surely heard of the Trevi Fountain, there are many more fountains in Rome well worth visiting.
Many of these are located close to other famous sites too, including the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon and the Vatican City. So it’s easy to see them as you explore Rome once you know what you’re looking for!
Read on to discover which Roman fountains interest you most, so you can add them to your city itinerary. If you are spending 4 days in Rome, let’s begin with the most famous Italian fountain of all.
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Most Famous Fountain in Rome
1. Fontana di Trevi – Trevi Fountain
Piazza di Trevi
The Trevi Fountain is included on many a Rome itinerary, so we had to get started with this one. It’s a very big and beautiful fountain built in the Baroque style and really does have to be seen to be believed. Italian architect Nicola Salvi is behind the design, though others were involved in its execution.
Rome’s best-known fountain dates back to the 18th century, though construction began early in the preceding century. The Palazzo Poli behind it makes a magnificent backdrop, and the fountain is meant to represent the taming of the waters.
The world-famous Trevi Fountain in Rome has it all – Travertine stone, mythical figures and lots of water running over it into the pool beneath. Don’t miss this famous fountain when in Rome! It’s a spectacular sight at night when subtly lit to show off the incredible artwork.
Fountains of Rome in Piazza Navona
Once you’ve ticked Trevi off your list, it’s worth heading to somewhere you can see 3 fountains in Rome all at once. So why not pay a visit to Piazza Navona, where a trio of Roman fountains awaits?
2. Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi – Fountain of the Four Rivers
This is also a pretty famous Rome fountain, and you cannot miss it when entering Piazza Navona. It dates back to the mid-17th century and consists of a tall Egyptian-style obelisk surrounded by four Gods.
These Gods were intended to represent major rivers within the reaches of Catholicism in Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe. The mighty waterways include the Nile, the Ganges, the Río de la Plata and the Danube.
The Fountain of the Four Rivers in Rome was designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. It was built for Pope Innocent X, whose family home faced the square. This is the Palazzo Pamphili.
3. La Fontana del Moro – Fountain of the Moor
The second of the Rome water fountains situated in Piazza Navona is the Fountain of the Moor. Its origins lie in the late 16th century, and the Moor (or African) statue was added during the 17th century. The rose marble basin here is beautiful.
If you want to see the original statues, you’ll actually need to visit the Borghese Gallery. They were moved there during the late 19th century when replicas were put in their place.
La Fontana del Moro was originally designed by Giacomo Della Porta, but Gian Lorenzo Bernini is the renowned architect behind the African statue. This was added later and is the reason why it’s known as the Fountain of the Moor.
4. Fontana del Nettuno – Fountain of Neptune
This is one of the Rome fountains that was used to supply city residents with water for centuries. The Fountain of Neptune was constructed during the latter half of the 16th century and provided water to Romans until the late 19th century.
The statues and sculptures here weren’t actually added until the 19th century. Giacomo della Porta originally designed it, but Antonio della Bitta and Gregorio Zappalà added various sculptures and statues.
Piazza del Popolo fountains
Another option for those who want to see several famous fountains in Rome in one hit is to head for Piazza del Popolo.
5. Fontana dei Quattro Leoni – Fountain of the Four Lions
At the center of Piazza del Popolo is a large obelisk, and you can find the Fountain of the Four Lions beneath this. Each lion is carved from marble and set atop a plinth. Water pours from the mouth of each one.
Giuseppe Valadier, a Roman architect, designed Fontana dei Quattro Leoni during the early 19th century.
6. Fontana della Dea di Roma – Fountain of the Goddess Rome
The Fountain of the Goddess in Rome features its namesake standing proud at the center. She’s flanked by seated statues that represent the Aniene and the Tiber rivers. The former meets the Tiber in northern Rome.
The fact that this was designed by the mighty Michelangelo surely makes it worth a look! Not to mention the fact that it has a Roman theme.
7. Fontana del Nettuno – Fountain of Neptune
Both Piazza Navona and Piazza del Popolo are home to fountains in Rome dedicated to the God of freshwater and the oceans. The latter’s Neoclassical fountain is a lot newer, dating back to the early 19th century.
It depicts a trident-bearing Neptune, plus a pair of Tritons. These were designed by Giovanni Ceccarini.
Fountains in St. Peter’s Square
St. Peter’s Square is also home to a couple of important Roman fountains. (Well they’re not actually in Rome, strictly speaking, as they’re in the Vatican City. Technically a separate country.)
8. The Maderno Fountain
The Maderno Fountain was built around 50 years before the Bernini Fountain. It was named for Carlo Maderno, the architect. See plaques paying tribute to Pope Paul V throughout this fountain.
9. The Bernini Fountain
This fountain in Italy is named for its architect, Gian Lorenzo Bernini. He designed it during the late 17th century, commissioned by Pope Clement X. It was completed within a decade.
This second fountain is more traditional in shape than many of the fountains of Rome, with tumbling water falling from a curved, multi-level sculpture decorated with scrolls.
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Fountains of Rome at Piazza Venezia
Piazza Venezia is one of the most beautiful and historic squares in Rome, Italy. The centerpiece of the piazza is the Palazzo Venezia, a grandiose palace that was once the home of the Venetian ambassadors to Rome.
This grand plaza is home to several impressive monuments, including the Altare della Patria, or “Altar of the Fatherland.” This famous monument made of white marble is dedicated to King Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of Italy.
Two fountains are at the foot of this monument, each personifying the Italian Seas, the Adriatic and the Tyrrhenian.
10. Fontana dell’Adriatico – Fountain of the Adriatic Sea
11. Fontana del Tirreno – Fountain of the Tyrrhenian
More fountains in Rome
12. Fontana della Barcaccia – Fountain of the Boat (by the Spanish Steps)
Piazza di Spagna
If you visit the Spanish Steps when in Rome, don’t miss the Barcaccia Fountain. It’s also in the Piazza di Spagna, right at the bottom of the famous steps.
This is just one of numerous Bernini fountains in Rome and dates from the 1620s. It was designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s father Pietro, though the former is thought to have contributed to the design.
This fountain is a lot lower than others in the city, resembling a sunken boat. The Virgin Aqueduct that fed it had less water pressure than others, which is why there are no dramatic waterfalls, spurts or jets here.
Barberini family bee symbols can be seen here, and the fountain stands at a spot once flooded by Tiber River waters during the Christmas flood of 1598.
13. Fontana del Pantheon – Fountain of the Pantheon
Piazza della Rotonda
You’d be right in thinking that this statue can be found close to the Roman Pantheon. Again, it was designed by Giacomo della Porta during the second half of the 16th century, though it was Leonardo Sormani who honed it from marble.
This Renaissance Rome fountain is fed by the 1570 Vergine aqueduct that also delivered water to the Fountain of the Four Rivers and the Trevi Fountain. Due to its age, this fountain has been restored and altered multiple times since its construction. The original gray marble basin, however, remains.
14. Fontana dei Libri – The Fountain of Books
Via degli Staderari
Somewhat unusual for fountains in Rome, Italy, Fontana dei Libri stands on a street rather than in a square. This thoroughfare runs between Piazza Navona and the Pantheon and was formerly known as the Via dell’ Università.
The university seat was here before relocating to Trastevere – hence the bookish theme of this fountain. It was designed by Pietro Lombardi and built as late as 1927.
A deer head at the center represents the Sant’Eustachio district, and the water flowing from the tomes and bookmarks symbolizes the wisdom that can be gleaned by the well-read.
15. Fontana del Tritone – Fountain of Triton
Fontana del Tritone is one of Bernini’s masterpieces and lies in Piazza Barberini in Rome. Triton, the Greek God of the sea, is at the center, rising from an oversized shell while drinking from a conch shell.
Both architecturally and artistically the Triton Fountain is a triumph, and one of the most magnificent fountains in Italy, let alone Rome. It was built in ancient Rome between 1642 and 1643 for ornamental and practical purposes. Pope Urban VIII, who commissioned it, belonged to the Barberini family, and the fountain displays bees that were their ancestral symbol.
16. Fontana del Obelisco – Fountain of the Lateran Obelisk
Piazza San Giovanni
This is one of Rome’s lesser-known fountains, but it’s pretty and definitely worth a look and a photo stop. It dates from the early 17th century and features heraldic emblems, with a large block of text inscribed above and an elegant marble basin below.
Flaminio Ponzio is thought to be behind the design of this one, though it’s uncertain. Domenico Fontana, Leo XI Medici and Paul V Borghese were all involved at various times. The fountain is dedicated to St John the Evangelist.
17. Fontana Delle Naiadi – Fountain of the Water Nymphs
Piazza della Repubblica
The Fountain of the Water Nymphs (or Fountain of the Naiads) can be found on Viminal Hill at the center of Rome’s Piazza della Repubblica. It’s a relative newcomer, as it was designed in 1888 by Alessandro Guerrieri.
Four bronze nymph statues surround this fountain’s basin. These represent various forms of water, namely oceans, rivers, lakes and underground sources. In the center, there’s a statue of the Greek sea god Glaucus with a dolphin.
18. Fontana delle Rane – Fountain of the Frogs
This is a late fountain in Rome, Italy, as it dates from the early 20th century. It’s the brainchild of Gino Coppedè and is within Piazza Mincio in the district bearing his name.
Fontana delle Rane is so-called because of the dozen frogs decorating it. The circular basin here is thus often referred to as ‘the pond’. Bees, floral touches, male statues and shells can also be seen at this famed Roman fountain.
19. Fontana delle Tartarughe – The Turtle Fountain
You’ll have to look up a little to see the turtles for which this fountain was named. The male figures holding it up and the blue-veined, cream marble centerpiece are immediately more striking.
This statue is located close to the city’s Jewish Quarter in Piazza Mattei. It was designed by Giacomo della Porta in the 16th century. The palazzi that were once owned by the Mattei family can be found in this area.
20. Fontana del Mosè – Fountain of Moses (in the Borghese Gardens)
Piazza San Bernardo
The Borghese Gardens in Rome are already filled with stunning sculptures, but one of the most fascinating pieces is the Fountain of Moses.
According to the book of Exodus in the Bible, a basket containing the infant Moses was found floating in the Nile by Pharaoh’s daughter, who raised him as her own son.
The sculpture portrays this scene, with baby Moses laying peacefully in his basket down to left. Francesco Laboureur created this masterpiece which can be found near the villa’s flower gardens.
Add a splash of history to your visit to the Borghese Gardens by taking a moment to admire this unique fountain.
21. Fontana della Pigna – Fountain of the Pinecone (in the Vatican Gardens)
Cortile della Pigna, Piazza di San Marco
The Pigna or Pinecone Fountain sits within a courtyard of the same name in St Mark’s Square. This forms part of Vatican City. A vast bronze pinecone was once unearthed here among the Agrippa Baths ruins, and this is now stored in the Belvedere Courtyard at the Vatican Museum.
This famous fountain in Italy thus resembles a huge pinecone. It was one of Pietro Lombardi’s works, created to represent various Roman riones (districts). The Fountain of Books was one of the same series.
One of the most contemporary fountains in the city in terms of style, it was designed and constructed during the early 20th century.
Fountains in Rome – FAQs
Trevi Fountain Facts
The Fontana di Trevi is the most famous fountain in the whole of Italy. This Rome fountain belongs on everyone’s Rome itinerary. It’s backed by a Roman palace – the Palazzo Poli and situated in Piazza di Trevi. The sizable work was created to represent the taming of the waters and has a large pool beneath the sculptures.
The Trevi Fountain isn’t only Rome’s most famous fountain, it’s also the biggest in the Italian capital. Measuring 49 meters (160 feet) in width by 26 meters (85 feet) in height, it definitely is a breathtaking site to see.
The Trevi Fountain is outdoors in Trevi Square and it’s free to visit. As the finest and largest fountain in the city, it’s an incredibly popular site. So do get there early if you want to avoid the crowds and get up close to it.
No, you cannot swim in the Trevi Fountain. Nor should you ever jump into any of Rome’s fountains. Doing so could even mean these beautiful and historic sites could be closed to tourists in the future, as entering them can cause irreparable damage to these irreplaceable creations.
Though you cannot enter the Trevi Fountain, you can throw a coin in and in fact, doing so is de rigueur. Legend has it that you’ll return to Rome someday if you do so. If you’re seeking romance, they say you’ll need to add another coin to ensure good luck in your love life.
Fines are at the discretion of Rome’s police force, but a number of tourists have, in recent years, been fined EUR 450 each for entering the waters of the Trevi Fountain. Similar fines have also been applied when other Roman fountains have been entered.
The best time to visit the Trevi Fountain is early in the morning – like 5:30 or 6 am – if you want to see it properly. The Trevi Fountain is incredibly popular and is thus always busy. It’s worth visiting during the evening as well, as it’s a spectacular sight when lit up by night.
Other Rome Fountain Facts
Yes, they are. Water flows from Roman fountains 24/7, though this may be stopped in the case of severe drought.
Don’t ever drink from the monumental fountains of Rome. Instead, look out for the small drinking fountains, called Il Nasoni (or ‘big nose’) fountains dotted around the city. The freshwater flowing from the large, curving spouts is free and safe to drink, and you’re likely to spot locals doing just that. In addition, fill your water bottle here instead of purchasing water elsewhere. There are more than 2,500 of these drinking fountains in Rome.
There are over 2,000 fountains in Rome altogether. Of these, more than 300 are monumental and very decorative. The most famous of all is of course the Trevi Fountain, but some others are almost as magnificent.
Roman aqueducts were built to ensure water flow throughout the Italian capital. The network harnessed the power of gravity to feed water to decorative fountains, baths, households, gardens and more.
The city of Rome built these aqueducts beneath the city’s seven hills and water was then stored there in large tanks. Today’s water towers found across the world perform a very similar role. Roman drinking water fountains are fed by pure, clean spring water from the mountains.
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Fountains in Rome Summary
With all these fabulous fountains in Rome to choose from, how will you pick which ones to visit? We recommend heading to the Trevi fountain as early as possible to see it properly, perhaps returning in the evening for a look at the illuminated version.
As for the other fountains, it’s easy to build many into your Rome itinerary due to the locations. If you head for Piazza Navona, for instance, you can see three there. You can also see several at Piazza del Popolo and in Vatican City.
Others are located close to, or within, tourist attractions including the Pantheon, the Borghese Gardens and the Spanish Steps. If you plot your itinerary carefully, it’s pretty simple to see a number of these incredible structures while visiting the Eternal City, so make sure you don’t miss out!
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Christine is a mother, wife and travel fanatic. She loves to plan trips, especially using points and miles. Disney is her passion while vacations in Europe have her wanting to move there. To continue reading, click more about me.