A Brief History of Water Features

brk-303-3__34127.jpg The water from springs and other sources was initially delivered to the occupants of nearby communities and municipalities via water fountains, whose design was mainly practical, not artistic. A supply of water higher in elevation than the fountain was needed to pressurize the movement and send water squirting from the fountain's nozzle, a system without equal until the later part of the 19th century. Commonly used as monuments and commemorative edifices, water fountains have inspired people from all over the globe all through the ages. When you encounter a fountain today, that is certainly not what the first water fountains looked like. Simple stone basins crafted from nearby rock were the very first fountains, used for religious ceremonies and drinking water. Natural stone basins are thought to have been first made use of around the year 2000 BC. The first fountains put to use in ancient civilizations depended on gravity to manipulate the movement of water through the fountain. Positioned near reservoirs or springs, the practical public water fountains furnished the local residents with fresh drinking water. Creatures, Gods, and religious figures dominated the early decorative Roman fountains, starting to appear in about 6 B.C.. Water for the open fountains of Rome was brought to the city via a intricate system of water aqueducts.

The Genius of Michelangelo’s Roman Water Fountains

Two Florentine sculptors by the names of Michelangelo and Ammannati created the earliest Roman wall fountains during the 16th century. The first fountain Michelangelo made came in 1536 with the construction of the Campidoglio in Rome which was to make part of the Palazzo Senatorio's façade. A conduit from the Aqua Felice was constructed later and it brought water to the Capitol making a more lavish water effect possible. Styled on the late Cinquecento, Michelangelo made a larger basin, anticipating the building of the conduit.

Was the reknowned maestro the earliest to design wall fountains? Italy’s fountains definitely show the impact his designs had on the styles found there. Today, this structural style is found at the Fountain of the River Gods at the Villa Lante, Bagnaia 1, and the Fountain of the Mugnone arranged among the stairs on the principal axis of the Villa Pratolino.

Michelangelo’s great talent was put aside because he was forced to design fountains combining classical elements and a Roman style. An original wall fountain for the top of the corridor of the Belvedere in the Vatican was commissioned to the famed sculptor by Julius III (1550-1555). A marble statue of Moses striking a stone streaming water was to be built as decoration for the fountain. However, an ancient figure of Cleopatra replaced the statue of Moses because the latter would take too much time make. It was thought easier to use a classic piece of art above the fountain rather than have the eminent artist design a totally new figure.

Where are the World’s Most Grandiose Fountains?

Known as the King Fahd Fountain (1985) found in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, it is the highest continuously operating fountain in the world. The water reaches the amazing height of 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 second highest worldwide.

Next to the Mississippi River in St. Louis, Missouri, is the Gateway Geyser (1995) which reaches third place. It rockets water 192 meters (630 feet) into the air and is currently the tallest fountain in the United States.

Next is the fountain found in Karachi, Pakistan (Port Fountain) which shoots water up to 190 meters (620 feet) in height.

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, opened to the public in 2009, is located near the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. The fountain propels water up to 73 meters (240 feet) and performs once every half hour to pre-recorded music - and even has extreme shooters, not used in every show, which reach up to 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.

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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