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Home > Water Fountain Information > The Famous Trevi Water Fountain of Rome

The Famous Trevi Water Fountain of Rome

Perhaps one of the world's most famous water fountains?

The Trevi Water Fountain in the Trevi district of Rome is the largest of Rome’s Baroque water fountains. It lies at the intersection of three roads (tre vie), and is located at the terminal point of an ancient Roman aqueduct, known not only as the waters of Trevi, but also the Aqua Virgin. The fountain stands eighty-five feet high and sixty-five feet wide, with the theme of Taming of the waters sculpted from stone in dramatic classical Baroque style.

Legend holds that in 19 BC thirsty Roman soldiers were guided by a young girl to a source of pure water thirteen kilometers from the city of Rome. The discovery of the source led Augustus to commission the construction of a twenty-two kilometer aqueduct leading into the city, which was named Aqua Virgo, or Virgin Waters, in honor of the legendary young girl. The aqueduct served the hot Baths of Agrippa, and Rome, for over four hundred years.

During the fifteenth century Renaissance, under the reign of Pope Nicholas V, the Trevi water fountain received a simple large basin designed by humanist architect Leon Battista Alberti.

In the eighteenth century Pope Clement XII began work on the current design of the fountain, during a restoration of the Trevi district. The current state of the fountain took three centuries to complete, and credit for the most part the work goes to Roman architect Nicola Salvi, who spent twenty full years of intense work attempting to complete the neglected project, which suffered delays for nearly a century after the death of Pope Urban VIII. Salvi died in 1751, before the fountain was finished. Giuseppe Pannini completed Salvi’s plans for the fountain’s sculpture in 1762.

The central feature of the water fountain’s monument is an enormous niche inside which stands Neptune in a shell-shaped chariot drawn by seahorses guided by Tritons. Flanking Neptune are two niches. In one, Abundance holds an overflowing urn, and in the other Salubrity holds a cup from which a snake eternally drinks. Above Neptune, in the facade of the Palazzo Polli, bas relief sculpture illustrates the Roman origins of the fountain. The waters surrounding the dramatic sculptures represent the sea.

In 1998 the Trevi Fountain was refurbished, recirculating pumps installed, and stonework scrubbed.

The stunning water fountain appears in numerous movies, including a famous scene in Federico Fellini’s “La Dolce Vida”, and figures into the plot line of the Academy Award-winning “Three Coins in the Fountain”.

Tradition holds that if visitors throw a coin into the fountain, a return to Rome is ensured. Current modern variations are that it is lucky to throw three coins with the right hand, over the left shoulder, or that two coins thrown into the fountain ensure marriage, and three coins a divorce. Approximately three thousand Euros are thrown into the fountain daily. The money is collected at night and is used to subsidize a supermarket for Rome’s neediest citizens.

A scaled-down replica of the Trevi Fountain may be found at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada, outside the Forum Shops.

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The Famous Trevi Water Fountain of Rome