Top 10 Fountains of the World

Fountains are something we notice as visual travelers, they are beautiful centerpieces in many cities around the world but as we investigated the list that we found on BBC. We realized some of them served other purposes, and have evolved over many many years! Here is the list with some of our own notes- enjoy!

Fountain #1, the Fountain of Apollo, Versailles.

You’ll find this one at the Palace of Versailles, near Paris France. This was inspired by the idea of the Roman sun god, Apollo rising from the sea at dawn, it was designed by Charles Le Brun, and built 1668 and 1671.  It is an eye-catcher with its golden horses, whales blowing water from horns, and the fountain stands at the head of a mile-long canal in the palace gardens. Visiting Versailles is a wonderful day trip from Paris via the Train and the best time to view this fountain would probably be in Springtime when the gardens are abloom!

 Jet d’Eau, Geneva – is #2, Literally meaning ‘water jet’, is the huge Fountain on the Geneva Lake, in the city of Geneva, Switzerland. Jet d’Eau is one of the tallest fountains in the world.

This wasn’t initially a fountain, but a solution to an engineering problem, back in the 1880’s when the jet of water first began spouting from the lake. In 1886, a hydraulic water pump was used to power the machinery, particularly the watchmaking, in the city. At night when the craftsmen stopped work, excess pressure would build-up in the system, and a safety valve was added to control the pressure – and this created the famous jet of water into the sky. By 1891, a better solution was employed and this safety valve was no longer needed, but by this time the locals were so fond of its sporadic eruption that it remained.  It has been relocated and changed a bit over time, but it remains an iconic site in Geneva. It is switched off at night so you may want to check the “schedule” to get a photo!

#3 is the Stravinsky Fountain, Paris

This is one of the newer fountains on the list, the Stravinsky Fountain is a whimsical public fountain. I saw it used recently in a scene in the movie “Sabrina” starring Harrison Ford. The “circus-like” chaos of the fountain is intended to evoke Stravinsky’s encounters with jazz. The artist asked that the water be left untreated and that moss be allowed to grow on the fountain so that nature could contribute to the work. This is the work of sculptor Jean Tinguely and painter Niki de Saint Phalle.  The combination of these two styles makes the fountain appear whimsical and disorderly. It was unveiled in 1983 and the fountain remains one of the most photographed attractions in the neighborhood. It is low to the ground and approachable, with low-powered motors in the waterworks so that visitors can wade in the water on hot days. What a fun way to cool off on a hot day exploring Paris!

Naqsh-e-Jahan Square, Isfahan – is #4 .

This fountain sits in the middle of Isfahan, in Iran, in the middle of one of the largest city squares in the world. This square is one of the most iconic places in all of Iran.  The fountain was added more recently, and is really the centerpiece of the square. The fountain is surrounded by shops, restaurants, a mosque, a palace and other amazing sites. With the fountain spray and the reflections in the water, it does make for a wonderful site. The square was constructed between 1598 and 1629, originally named Naqsh-e Jahan in Farsi means “The image of the world”.  

 The square once was the largest in the world, but now is the second largest after the Tiananmen Square in Beijing. This place is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For many of us we may not see this founain in person but we can appreciate it’s place in its city and the beauty it adds to this square.

#5, the Fountain of Prometheus, Rockefeller Center, New York

In the middle of the sunken plaza at the Rockefeller Center, in New York, is the Fountain of Prometheus. The centerpiece of this fountain is the gilded bronze, art deco-style sculpture by Paul Manship of Prometheus, the Ancient Greek Titan who brought fire from Mount Olympus to Earth to advance human civilization. This fountain has been here since 1934 and is one of the most iconic sites in New York City you must go and see it!

Trevi Fountain, Rome, is #6.

The Trevi Fountain is one of the oldest water sources in Rome. Measuring some 161 feet wide in by 86 feet height, Trevi Fountain is also the largest fountain in the city. The origins of the fountain go back to the year 19 B.C., in which time the fountain formed the end of the Aqua Virgo aqueduct. It’s constructed of the same material as the Colosseum and took about 30 years to complete. Some interesting facts about the fountain, it’s a crime to steal the coins from the Trevi, the water of the Trevi Fountain is known as the best and the sweetest water in Rome and tradition has it that lovers who wanted to make their relationship last forever drank a glass of water from the fountain, then had to smash the glass against the fountain. Michelangelo was apparently also a big fan of the Trevi water. When he died, five kegs of water from the Trevi Fountain were found in his house. It is now forbidden to drink from the fountain, but on the right side of the fountain, you will find a small drinking fountain where you can drink water from or refill your bottle with fresh water. The fountain is surrounded by statues of thirty different types of plants

The 7th fountain on the BBC list is the Fountain of Joy, Kolkata

This is another new fountain, which had a bit of a bumpy start. The Fountain of Joy, is India’s largest dancing fountain, 30 years ago in 1991. After a few years it lost its charm and the surrounding neighborhood had some challenges and the water shows were closed.  The fountain was revived in 2012, with better technology and visual effects. It was integrated with computer-embedded software. Allows for musical choreography with water features, lighting and sound with 26 pumps of different capacities. Average water exposure is about 15,800 liters per minute, with the central nozzle spraying water up to a height of 25 metres. Songs and music sequences with dancing fountain effect are featured every evening from 6 pm to 9 pm. It is now a city landmark and is featured on the list of the World’s Incredible Water Performances. This is another far off fountain that I hope to visit!

Fountain #8, Samson Fountain, Peterhof, St Petersburg

The decision of the construction of the fountain was made in 1734, when the 25th anniversary of the Battle of Poltava was to be celebrated. This was the most important event of the Northern war and occurred on the day of St. Samson that brings to mind the allegoric image of the memorable battle in the form of the struggle of the Old Testament hero Samson with the lion. The sculpture was meant to be a symbol of Russia’s victory over Sweden, whose coat of arms contains the figure of a lion. In order to obtain the maximum height of water a special wooden pipeline column with a length more than four kilometers (from Babigonsky pond). In 1736 all works were completed and the fountain water column  shot up to a height of 20 meters.

It was a matter of honor to restore the legendary fountain. In 1947, the sculptor V. Simonov, together with his assistant N. Mikhailov, carefully studied the pre-war photographs of the fountain and created a model, according to which the sculpture was cast in bronze at the Leningrad Monumentskulptura plant. In September 1947, the Samson Tearing the Lion’s Jaws fountain was reopened after restoration work. In 1956, 8 bronze dolphins fountains were recreated from the surviving model. Seen through plumes of sparkling water, Samson is now said to represent civilisation triumphing over brutality

#9, the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain, Hyde Park, London

And the newest fountain on the list, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain, which was opened by Queen Elizabeth II to very mixed reviews in July 2004. The opening ceremony brought the Windsors and the Spencers together for the first time in seven years. Designed by an American landscape artist, Kathryn Gustafson, wanted the fountain to be accessible and to reflect Diana’s “inclusive” personality.  The design expresses the concept of ‘Reaching out – letting in’, taken from the qualities of the Princess of Wales that were most loved; her inclusiveness and accessibility. Although it is referred to as a fountain, it is actually more of an oval-shaped stream. The fountain is circular and runs around a patch of grass in Hyde Park. The Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain, has been visited by over two million people since 2004, making the memorial one of London’s most popular free tourist attractions.

And finally, #10, the Floating Fountains, Osaka

 The Nine Floating Fountains is an art display located in Osaka Japan and was originally built for the 1970 World Expo. Designed by California Sculptor and Landscape Architect Isamu Noguchi.  The fountain, or fountains, appear to be a major optical illusion at first glance. The two massive square boxes float in the air as a continuous flow of water pours from their bottoms. The water collects in the large square basin below but where does it go from there? How does the water come from the floating cubes to begin with? Well, Isamu cleverly constructed the fountain display with a well hidden pipe that feeds up into each box and is rendered virtually invisible once the water begins to flow, creating the optical illusion that the squares are floating in the air and the water appears out of nowhere.

We hope you have enjoyed this list of amazing Fountains and please feel free to comment with a Fountain you feel should be on this list or your impressioins of any of these amazing sights!

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