Fountain of Four Rivers in Rome

Amongst the famous fountains in Rome, the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, or Fountain of the Four Rivers, is a magnificent water feature in the Piazza Navona, in the heart of Rome, Italy. 

The Sophisticated Design of the Four Rivers Fountain

The Fountain of Four Rivers was erected in 1651 for Pope Innocent X by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. A competition was held to pick the design, and Bernini triumphantly captured the judges' hearts after a famous dispute.

It was said that the pope has desired so much to create a fountain in the midst of Piazza Navona as an added charm to his home, the Palazzo Pamphili, which faced the piazza. Innocent has called on the leading architects in Rome excluding Bernini, but Prince Niccolo Ludovisi, husband of the pope's niece, heard of this plan and persuaded Bernini to create a model. This, Ludovisi has slipped into the rest of the designs which the pope has to take a look at. Upon his gaze, the pope was instantly struck by the design, and, deciding that it was the winner, called on to Bernini to make the design.

Fountain of Four Rivers in Rome


Public fountains in Rome's piazzas are more than accessories. They are in fact highly needed water sources for areas with poor plumbing. Other than that, they serve was monuments to their sponsors, most of them high-ranking elites and papal patrons.

Bernini, whose works have decorated many fountains in the country, has showcased his skill in these amazing water features. The design for the Four Rivers Fountain was inspired by the Monument of the Four Moors, which was used to commemorate the defeat of the Ottomans. In this fountain, several metaphors were alluded to. The Ganges boasts of a long oar, which symbolizes the river's features of being easy to navigate. Nile is decorated with a loose piece of cloth, which is meant to represent the fact that nobody knew where the source of the river was. Danube touches the Pope's coat of arms, being the largest river closest to Rome and Rio de la Plata sits on a pile of coins, a symbolism of the treasures America has offered to Europe. Rio de la Plata looked terrified of a snake, which depicts how rich men are scared that their money can be taken from them. Each of the river deities are showcased upon the central tower embellished with an Egyptian obelisk, representing the Papal power that surmounts the Pamphili symbol.

From this illustrious design, water flows from a jagged travertine marble. It was a legend that Bernini deliberately positioned Rio de la Plata as if the sculpture cowers down the facade of the church of Sant'Agnese, which has been built by Bernini's rival, Borromini. The church was completed several years after the fountain has been erected.

It was June 1651 when Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi has been unveiled. A festival, paid by the Pamphili family for Innocent X has been held. It was said that the locals were overwhelmed by the massive Four Rivers Fountain that contained lifelike deities.

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