Roman Water Fountains: Michelangelo’s Masterpieces

The 16th century saw the creation of the first Roman wall fountains, the designs of two famed Florentine sculptures, Michelangelo and Ammannati. Michelangelo’s first fountain was completed in 1536 in the Piazza del Campidoglio in Rome and makes up part of the front of the Palazzo Senatorio. The construction of a conduit from the Aqua Felice to the Capitol, which allowed for a more spectacular water display, was included years later. p-746_art__65834.jpg Styled on the late Cinquecento, Michelangelo built a larger basin, anticipating the development of the conduit.

Did the creation of wall fountains begin with the famed artist? Italy’s fountains truly show the effect his designs had on the styles found there. The styles found at the Fountain of the River Gods at the Villa Lante, Bagnaia 1, and the Fountain of the Mugnone, set between the flight of steps on the main axis of the Villa Pratolino, represent other examples of this style.

Rather than designing fountains based on his own brilliance, Michelangelo was fated to integrating traditional elements into Roman-styled structures. A new fountain at the top of the Belvedere in the Vatican was authorized by Julius III (1550-1555) and it fell to the great sculptor to design an archetypal structure. The fountain was to be decorated with a marble sculpture of Moses hitting a stone from which water flowed. Rather than creating the Moses statue, which would take too much time to finish, an antique figure of Cleopatra was used in its place, however. A design by the well-known artist was thought to be too time-consuming, therefore, an ancient sculpture placed above the fountain seemed to be a better option.

The Minoan Civilization: Outdoor Fountains

On the Greek island of Crete, digs have discovered channels of several varieties. These were utilized to supply urban centers with water as well as to alleviate flooding and eliminate waste.

The principle ingredients utilized were stone or clay. Whenever made from terracotta, they were generally in the shape of canals and round or rectangular piping. Amidst these were clay pipes which were U shaped or a shortened, cone-like shape which have exclusively showed up in Minoan culture. The water supply at Knossos Palace was handled with a system of clay piping that was positioned underneath the floor, at depths ranging from a couple of centimeters to many meters. The water pipes also had other functions including collecting water and diverting it to a central site for storage. This called for the terracotta piping to be capable of holding water without seepage. Underground Water Transportation: Initially this technique would seem to have been created not for convenience but rather to give water for chosen individuals or rites without it being noticed. Quality Water Transportation: Considering the indicators, a number of historians propose that these pipes were not hooked up to the common water delivery process, providing the palace with water from a various source.

The Globe's Most Amazing Water Showpieces

Referred to as the King Fahd Fountain (1985) found in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, it is the highest continuously operating fountain in the world. It spouts out water reaching 260 meters (853 feet) above the Red Sea.

Reaching water levels of 202 meters (663 feet), the World Cup Fountain in the Han-Gang River in Seoul, Korea (2002), is recognized as the 2nd highest worldwide.

Next to the Mississippi River in St. Louis, Missouri, is the Gateway Geyser (1995) which reaches third place. This fountain is considered the tallest in the United States with water reaching up to 192 meters (630 feet).

With water ejected 190 meters (620 feet) in the air, the Port Fountain in Karachi, Pakistan makes the list.

Number 4: On a typical day the water is limited to 91 meters (300 feet) at the Fountain Park feature in Fountain Hills, Arizona, but it is capable of propelling water up to 171 meters (561 feet) when all three pumps are working.

The Dubai Fountain, opened to the public in 2009, is located next to the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. It performs every 1/2 hour to previously recorded songs and propels water up to 73 meters (240 feet) in height -it also has built in extreme shooters, though only used during special events, which reach 150 meters (490 feet) in height.

Number 7 is the Captain James Cook Memorial Jet in Canberra, completed 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).


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