The First Garden Water Fountains recorded in Human History.

The water from creeks and other sources was originally supplied to the citizens of nearby communities and municipalities by way of water fountains, whose purpose was largely practical, not artistic. To make water flow through a fountain until the late 1800’s, and generate a jet of water, demanded gravity and a water source such as a spring or reservoir, located higher than the fountain. Typically used as memorials and commemorative edifices, water fountains have influenced men and women from all over the globe all through the ages. The common fountains of today bear little similarity to the first water fountains. angel cherub__67925.original.jpg The 1st recognized water fountain was a natural stone basin created that was used as a container for drinking water and ceremonial purposes. The first stone basins are presumed to be from around 2000 BC. The first civilizations that utilized fountains depended on gravity to drive water through spigots. Drinking water was supplied by public fountains, long before fountains became decorative public monuments, as pretty as they are practical. Fountains with elaborate decoration began to appear in Rome in about 6 B.C., usually gods and creatures, made with stone or bronze. The impressive aqueducts of Rome provided water to the spectacular public fountains, many of which you can visit today.

The World’s Tallest Water Showpieces

Referred to as the King Fahd Fountain (1985) found in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, it is the highest continuously functioning fountain in the world. The water here jets up to a elevation of 260 meters (853 feet) above the Red Sea.

The Han-Gang River in Seoul, Korea (2002), comes in second with water heights of 202 meters (663 feet).

Next to the Mississippi River in St. Louis, Missouri, is the Gateway Geyser (1995) which comes in third place.

With water reaching 192 meters (630 feet) in the air, this fountain is the tallest in the U.S..

Next is Port Fountain (2006) in Karachi, Pakistan, where the water jets 190 meters (620 feet) high.

Fountain Park in Fountain Hills, Arizona is number 4: it can jet water 171 meters (561 feet) high when the three pumps operate at full capacity, it is usually limited to 91 meters (300 feet).

The Dubai Fountain, opened to the public in 2009, is located next to the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. Once every half hour, this fountain begins dancing to pre-recorded musical themes while shooting water 73 meters (240 feet) high. It also has extreme shooters, rarely used, which go as high as 150 meters (490 feet).

Number 7 is the Captain James Cook Memorial Jet in Canberra, finished in 1970, launching water 147 meters (482 feet) high.

The last impressive fountain to make the list is the Jet d’Eau (1951) in Geneva, Switzerland, measuring 140 meters (460 feet).

Michelangelo’s Roman Water Fountains

Two Florentine masters by the names of Michelangelo and Ammannati designed the first Roman wall fountains during the 16th century. Michelangelo’s first fountain was unveiled in 1536 in the Piazza del Campidoglio in Rome and makes up part of the facade of the Palazzo Senatorio. Constructed some years later, a conduit from the Aqua Felice was added which brought water into the Capitol allowing a greater water display. Styled on the late Cinquecento, Michelangelo made a larger basin, anticipating the development of the conduit.

Was the well-known maestro the first to design wall fountains? Italy’s fountains certainly show the influence his designs had on the styles seen there. More examples of this sort of structure can be seen in the Fountain of the River Gods at the Villa Lante, Bagnaia 1, and the Fountain of the Mugnone which is set between flights of stairs on the central axis of the Villa Pratolino.

Rather than creating fountains based on his own brilliance, Michelangelo was doomed to integrating traditional elements into Roman-styled structures. Julius III (1550-1555) decided to have a fountain constructed at the top of the Belvedere in the Vatican and instructed the Florentine genius to design a one-of-a-kind wall fountain. A marble statue of Moses striking a rock streaming water was to be built as decoration for the fountain. The option of the Moses figure was rejected, however, because of the time it would take to create it and was therefore replaced by an antique image of Cleopatra. It was thought easier to use a classic sculpture above the fountain rather than have the eminent artist design a totally new figure.


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