Thursday, 24 February 2011

The Fountain of the Four Rivers

The Fountain of the Four Rivers is in the center of Piazza Navona. It was realised according to a project of Bernini in 1651 and it is an imaginative baroque representation of the main rivers of the four continents known at those times: Rio de la Plata (South America), Nile (Africa), Gange (Asia) and the Danube (Europe). Australia will be discovered only many years later and this is why the statues are four and not five. Worth to notice is the statue of the Nile: he covers his face with a veil because at those times its source wasn't known yet. The obelisk on top of the fountain belongs to the roman period and it was found on the Appian Way. The dove at the top of the obelisk is the symbol of the family of the pope (Innocenzo X) who commissioned this fountain but also of the Holy Spirit which is spread through the four continents represented by the below statues. Recently during the last restoration, since the fountain is threatened by the dungs of the pigeons, they have put a mechanism (invisible from outside) which releases small electric shocks to prevent the birds from approaching the fountain.

The fountain of the Four Rivers
The statue of the Nile