Fontana dell’Acqua Paola was built between 1610 and 1612, and it bears the name of Pope Paul V who commissioned the most extensive restoration works of the fountain, in the wider context of the full restoration of the Acqua Paola aqueduct. The fountain was designed by Giovanni Fontana and Flaminio Ponzio, who found in the previously built Fontana dell’Acqua Felice (between 1585 and 1588) their inspiration. It was Emperor Trajan the one who had built the aqueduct, centuries earlier, in order to provide the people living on the Janiculum Hill with a clean source of water, near the Tiber River. The passage of time understandably led to the slow decay of the aqueduct, which is why the restoration works initiated by Pope Paul V became necessary.

Fontana dell’Acqua Paola was built from materials (marble, travertine) brought from ancient edifices of Rome, such as the Temple of Minerva (located on one of the most important archeological sites of the city, namely, in the Imperial Forums, more precisely, in the Nerva Forum, in the vicinity of the Trajan’s Market). Unlike Fontana dell’Acqua Felice, outstanding by its decorations, Fontana dell’Acqua Paola is simpler, but not at the expense of its monumentality. Thus, the chief decorations refer to the coat of arms of the Borghese family symbolically leaning on several angels while supporting, at its turn, the papal tiara. The semicircular pool of the fountain was added no sooner than 1690, following a design by Carlo Fontana, in order to replace the five preexistent basins which used to collect the water flowing from each of the five massive arches (the arches are separated by columns, and centrally pegged out by three niches).

The structure of the fountain inspired the design of the later built Trevi Fountain.

Fontana dell’Acqua Paola (Il Fontanone / The Big Fountain)
Via Garribaldi, Rome, Italy