Fountains in History

A fountain (from the Latin “fons” or “fontis”, a source or spring), or sometimes called water fountain, is a piece of architecture which pours water into a basin or jets it into the air either to supply drinking water or for decorative or dramatic effect.

Fountains were originally purely functional, connected to springs or aqueducts and used to provide drinking water and water for bathing, but in ancient Rome they began to be used as decorative elements in gardens and courtyards. The art of fountains reached its peak in the fountains of the palaces of Moorish Spain in the 14th century; in the Italian Renaissance garden in the 15th and 16th century; in the fountains of the Gardens of Versailles in the seventeenth century; and the decorative fountains of Rome in the seventeenth and eighteenth century.

Fountains today may be practical, such as drinking fountains and village fountains which provide clean drinking water; or designed for recreation, such as splash fountains, where residents can cool off in summer; or ornamental, decorating city parks and squares and home gardens.

Navona Square - Italy Fountain

Navona Square – Italy

Navona Square - Italy (3)Navona Square - Italy (1)

Fountains may be wall fountains or free-standing. In fountains sheets of water may flow over varied surfaces of stone, concrete or metal. Basins may overflow from one into another, or the overflow may imitate a natural cascade. Many fountains are located in small, artificial, ornamental ponds, basins and formal garden pools, and often they include sculpture.

Until the 20th century fountains depended upon gravity to make water spout or spray in the air, but modern fountains can use mechanical pumps. A famous example is the Jet d’Eau in Lake Geneva, which shoots water 140 meters in the air. The highest such fountain in the world is King Fahd’s Fountain in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, which rises 260 meters (853 feet) above the Red Sea.. The musical fountain combines moving jets of water, colored lights and recorded music, controlled by a computer, for dramatic effects.

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