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Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini: fountain of the Four rivers in Rome

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Among the architectural masterpieces and historic monuments of the capital of Italy is one that always attracts tourists. Photographed on the background of the Fountain of the Four Rivers and throw a coin in it hastens each guest of the Eternal city. What is so remarkable about this fountain?

The geographical position

Fountain of the Four Rivers, though not as popular as the famous Pantheon, but did not inferior to him in elegance and beauty.


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In the capital of Italy is the Piazza Navona. And the Fountain of the Four Rivers became its decoration, organically fit into the overall architectural ensemble of the square.

Among the most beautiful Italian fountains, this masterpiece is clearly among the leaders.

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How to get there?

From the nearest metro to Piazza Navona can be reached by public transport.

  • Bus No. 87 will suit those traveling from the station, Colosseo (line b of the Rome metro).
  • Route No. 70 will take passengers from the stop Termini (line a).
  • Bus No. 492 takes you to Piazza Navona from Piazza Barberini.

To get to the fountain you can also, if ride routes № 30, 81, 116, 186, 628 to the stop of Corso del Rinascimento.

The Masterpiece Of Gian Lorenzo Bernini

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The construction of the Fountain of the Four Rivers lasted from 1648 to 1651. By the way, a talented sculptor Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini could not be the author of the project because of the intrigue and envy.

The history of creation

The powerful Pamphili family by the mid-17th century, rebuilt in the Piazza Navona its nest – the Palazzo Pamphili. The head of the clan, Pope innocent X wished to establish near Egyptian obelisk. He was allegedly brought to Rome by the Emperor Caracalla. Although the researchers are more inclined to consider the obelisk, a reproduction of ancient Egyptian columns.

The grandeur of the obelisk decided to highlight a fountain with a sculptural composition.

Historical legend says that Giovanni Bernini are generally not allowed to participate in the competition. His enemies slandered, the reputation of the wizard was tainted. And anyway, Dad have full confidence in his protégé Francesco Borromini.

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But Bernini still created his own version of the fountain. The layout of the innocent X saw the accident. Brought it into the dining room where we dined, the Pope, the husband of his niece, who was a patron of the Maestro. So blown away by the beauty of creation, the Pope decided to entrust the construction of the fountain, Giovanni Bernini.

There is another interesting version of why the project took exactly Bernini. Supposedly the decision of the Pope was influenced by his brother's wife Donna Olimpia Pamphili (Maidalchini). Rumor asserted the close relationship of a lady with innocent X.

Which version is more authentic is not so important. The important thing is that for years the Italian capital adorned with a splendid fountain.

The architecture of the buildings

In the center of a Grand composition of the fountain – obelisk, with a height of 16.5 metres. On its sides are depicted the Roman rulers in paransky clothes. It symbolizes the victory of Christian faith over the pagan gods.

The top of the obelisk is decorated with a generic sign Pamphili – a dove with olive branch.

And they are surrounded by figures of the gods of the four rivers flowing in different parts of the world:

  1. The Danube represents Europe;
  2. Ganges – Asia;
  3. Neal represents the African continent;
  4. La Plata represents the New world.

In the hands of the God of the river Danube – a scroll with the papal emblems and heraldic signs Pamphili. A lot of money under the statue of La Plata said the wealth and prosperity of America. In the hands of the Ganges – the paddleas sign developed in India navigation.

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The face of the God of the Nile covered. Why – this account of the two versions:

  • When we were working on the fountain, the source of the river is still not studied as follows;
  • A second option – the creative rivalry between Bernini and Borromini. The statue of the Nile looks at the nearby Church of Sant Agnese (the work of Borromini). And under the gaze of the God of the African river the building supposedly could collapse.

Sculptures of river gods, surrounded by plants and animals of four continents. Tourists can visit vine, palm trees, cacti, horses, crocodiles, snakes, lion, Dolphin.

Under the figures of the gods of the four rivers — bowl in the form of a lakefilled with cool water from the aqueduct. Guests of the Eternal city, want to come back, throw coins in there.

Interesting facts

  • The construction of the fountain "Four rivers" was a fun not-so-cheap. Even had to go on a rather unpopular measures. The government has raised the tax on bread, the expenses it had to cover.
  • Fountain of the Four Rivers was too expensive structure, but also, and more difficult in the technical plan. There is even a legend about it.

    On the eve of the launch of the fountain, innocent X had personally visited to see how things are going. Was accompanied by his eternal rival Bernini, Francesco Borromini. Seeing work you like, Borromini sarcastically said that the fountain is designed wrong and will not work.

    The author then asked Pope innocent to bless the fountain, and then miraculously scored the jets of cool water. Needless to say, with some relief, Giovanni Bernini.

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    Pope innocent X did since then was imbued with a special sympathy for the genius of the master.

  • Fountain of the Four Rivers attracts not only the beauty and monumentality. Under the hot Roman sun refreshing swim in the cool, clear water. It is served in the fountain the aqueduct of the Aqua Virgo – the ancient aqueduct, still in force. But it was built in the I century BC.
  • Life near the fountain never stops even for a minute. Artists make paintings and sketches, street musicians and mimes entertain the guests, tourists actively take pictures.
  • On the eve of Christmas and new year holidays near the fountain of the Four Rivers are fair pavilions. On the largest in Rome Christmas market selling all sorts of sweets and Souvenirs.

    The good witch Befanathat brings gifts to children. Her figurines are sold here in different variations. At the fair you can sit in the carriage with Santa Claus and take a ride on the vintage carousel.

Those who are just planning familiarity with the sights of Italy, is clearly necessary to include in your travel itinerary fountain of the Four Rivers. This beauty is miss impossible!

In this video you will see the magnificent architecture of the fountains on the Piazza Navona in Rome: