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The Four Fountains

Le Quattro Fontane Foto Sovrintenza Capitolina

The fountains are located at the corners of the four buildings located at the intersection of Via delle Quattro Fontane with Via XX Settembre, each within a niche. They were built between 1588 and 1590, during the pontificate of Sixtus V Peretti, to adorn the crossroads formed by the Strada Pia (today's Via XX Settembre) with the Strada Felice (today's Via delle Quattro Fontane).

The complex, powered by the Felice Aqueduct, at the time just restored by the Pope himself, was built with materials from the Septizodium, a monumental nymphaeum with seven orders of columns built by Septimius Severus at the foot of the Palatine Hill and demolished by Domenico Fontana to supply the numerous construction sites opened by Pope Sixtus V.

The fountains are characterized by semicircular travertine basins on which there is a statue lying on the scenographic background consisting of plant ornaments. Two of these represent rivers: the one at the corner of Palazzo del Drago shows the Arno flanked by a lion, emblem of Florence, while, close to the nearby church of San Carlino, is the Tiber with a cornucopia full of fruit in the left hand and, alongside, the she-wolf. On the side facing Palazzo Barberini is represented the Fidelity or, more probably, Diana, flanked by a dog and leaning against the three mountains, symbol of Sixtus V. The fourth fountain represents the Fortress or the goddess Juno; on his left is a peacock, while on the right the water gushes from a lion's head.

The design of the fountains of the Tiber, Arno and Juno is attributed to Domenico Fontana, who also designed the street, while the fourth, that of Diana, is by Pietro da Cortona.

Photo: Courtesy Sovrintendenza Capitolina

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