A Real Roman Marvel: The Santa Maria Water Fountain in Cosmedin

Both Christian and pagan artifacts have been found in large quantities by archaeologists and restorers searching the area of the Santa Maria in Cosmedin in Rome. The nearby basilica is mainly for the marble sculpture known as the Bocca della Verità, (Mouth of Truth) located in its entryway. When the Santa Maria in Cosmedin fountain was built in 1719, it was off the beaten track and generally unknown as a result. The part of town where it was situated was forlorn and uninviting which generally kept people away. r-045__80647.jpg In order to refurbish the square outside the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Pope Clement XI commissioned an Italian architect by the name of Carlo Bizzaccheri to design a fountain for the area. August 11, 1717 saw the beginning of the job to put down the foundation of the church. The consecration of the first stone to be placed in the foundation was followed by medals being tossed in showing the images of the Blessed Virgin, for whom the church is named, and St. John the Baptist, the patron saint of water.

The Roman Water Fountains of Michelangelo

During the 16th century two renown Florentine sculptors by the names of Michelangelo and Ammannati made the first wall features in Rome. The fountain in the Piazza del Campidoglio in Rome, which was finalized in 1536 and became part of the façade of the Palazzo Senatorio, was Michelangelo’s first design. Built some years later, a conduit from the Aqua Felice was added which carried water into the Capitol allowing a greater water display. Michelangelo had foreseen this, however, and used a bigger basin styled on the art of the late Cinquecento.

The question remains as to whether the celebrated maestro was the earliest to create wall fountains. The maestro's designs absolutely shaped the future style of fountains in Italy. The Fountain of the River Gods at the Villa Lante, Bagnaia 1, and the Fountain of the Mugnone arranged between flights of stairs on the main axis of the Villa Pratolino are further examples of this type of structure.

It seemed to be Michelangelo’s predestination to combine classic Roman characteristics into his fountains instead of using his own remarkable talents to design original pieces. An original wall fountain for the top of the corridor of the Belvedere in the Vatican was commissioned to the famed artist by Julius III (1550-1555). The famed artist was commissioned to design a marble figure of Moses striking a stone from which water streamed forth. Unfortunately for the sculptor, this plan was turned down because it would take a lot of time to build and a classic statue of Cleopatra was used instead. An ancient figure was thought to be simpler to erect over the fountain than the construction of a completely new statue by the famed artist.

Where are the Planet's Biggest Water Fountains?

Referred to as the King Fahd Fountain (1985) located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, it is the highest continuously operating fountain in the world. Reaching incredible heights above the Red Sea, this fountain jets water 260 meters (853 feet) in the air.

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

The Gateway Geyser (1995) situated next to the Mississippi River in St. Louis, Missouri is number three on the list. This fountain is regarded as the tallest in the U.S. with water reaching up to 192 meters (630 feet).

Next is Port Fountain (2006) in Karachi, Pakistan, where the water shoots 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 function at full capacity, it is usually limited to 91 meters (300 feet).

The Dubai Fountain which made its debut in 2009 is situated next to highest building worldwide, the famous Burj Khalifa. Once every 1/2 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).

Propelling water up to 147 meters (482 feet) high, the Captain James Cook Memorial Jet (1970) in Canberra, Australia, comes in seventh.

Lastly is the Jet d’Eau (1951) in Geneva, Switzerland, which measures 140 meters (460 feet).


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