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Barcaccia Fountain, Rome

4.3
#158 of 2,778 in Things to do in Rome
Fountain · Hidden Gem · Tourist Spot
The Fontana della Barcaccia (Italian: [barˈkattʃa]; "Fountain of the Boat") is a Baroque-style fountain found at the foot of the Spanish Steps in Rome's Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Square). Pope Urban VIII commissioned Pietro Bernini in 1623 to build the fountain as part of a prior Papal project to erect a fountain in every major piazza in Rome. The fountain was completed between 1627 and 1629 by Pietro possibly along with the help of his son Gian Lorenzo Bernini, especially after his father's death on August 29, 1629.

The sculptural fountain is made into the shape of a half-sunken ship with water overflowing its sides into a small basin. The source of the water comes from the Acqua Vergine, an aqueduct from 19 BCE. Bernini built this fountain to be slightly below street level due to the low water pressure from the aqueduct. Water flows from seven points of fountain: the center baluster; two inside the boat from sun-shaped human faces; and four outside the boat.

According to legend, as the River Tiber flooded in 1598, water carried a small boat into the Piazza di Spagna. When the water receded, a boat was deposited in the center of the square, and it was this event that inspired Bernini's creation. The fountain is decorated with the papal coat of arms of the Barberini family as a reminder of Pope Urban VIII's ancestry.
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Barcaccia Fountain reviews

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4.6
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  • An pretty interesting attraction that's definitely worth seeing, especially due to its location and its famous creator. Made by artist Bernini, this intersting fountain, shaped as a boat, is locating....  more »
  • We walked all over Rome, numerous times. I don't know why people make such a big deal about this fountain and the Spanish Steps. I guess see it because everyone does? This fountain is not...  more »
Google
  • Gian Lorenzo Bernini was commissioned by the pope to design a fountain for the middle of Piazza di Spagna. He had to overcome an engineering challenge: the pressure of the water led by the aqueduct was too low in that point. With a stroke of genius, he chose to have a semi-sunken ship, which is also a symbol of the prosperity of Rome in his age.
  • In the almost centre of this piazza is a great fountain of a boat, well decorated and sculpted, in front of the most popular gathering place, the Spanish steps. The detail of the motives, emblems and shields on the boat, is a work of art, amazing.

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