The imposing fountain adorns the facade of Palazzo Senatorio, which is one of the monumental backdrops of Piazza del Campidoglio. The original Michelangelo's project for the arrangement of the square provided that the high central niche (5.30 m high) at the centre of the building stair would have been occupied by a statue of Jupiter, later replaced by a big statue of Minerva standing, previously placed, at the time of Paul III Farnese, in the courtyard of Palazzo dei Conservatori.
In 1538, when the works for the new layout of the square began, there were already two colossal marble statues (length 4.50 m) depicting the Nile and the Tigris - this one later turned into the Tiber with the addition of the she-wolf and the twins - made in the 2nd century AD, coming from the Baths of Constantine on the Quirinal Hill, and placed in 1543 by Michelangelo on two pedestals at the foot of the new staircase of Palazzo Senatorio on the sides of the niche.
In 1588, following the conduction of the Acqua Felice on the Capitoline hill, Matteo Bartolani da Castello was commissioned to design a fountain for celebrating the construction of the Felice Aqueduct, by the will of Sixtus V. The architect, therefore, created two overlapping basins of white Greek marble, decorated with five coats of arms and leaning against the staircase, which blended in harmoniously with Michelangelo's design of the square.
Finally, in 1593, at the time of Clement VIII Aldobrandini, the standing statue of Minerva, positioned inside the niche, was replaced with a smaller one in porphyry and marble; placed on three superimposed bases, it depicts Minerva sitting, then reinterpreted as the Goddess Roma holding a spear in her left hand and a sphere in her right one.
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