Water Features Lost to History

Towns and villages depended on practical water fountains to conduct water for preparing food, washing, and cleaning up from local sources like lakes, streams, or springs.Water Features Lost History 6656373148.jpg A supply of water higher in elevation than the fountain was needed to pressurize the flow and send water squirting from the fountain's nozzle, a system without equal until the late nineteenth century. Inspirational and impressive, large water fountains have been crafted as memorials in nearly all civilizations. The contemporary fountains of modern times bear little likeness to the first water fountains. Designed for drinking water and ceremonial functions, the initial fountains were simple carved stone basins. 2,000 BC is when the oldest known stone fountain basins were used. The force of gravity was the power source that operated the oldest water fountains. Drinking water was provided by public fountains, long before fountains became decorative public statues, as striking as they are functional. Creatures, Gods, and religious figures dominated the early ornate Roman fountains, starting to appear in about 6 BC. Water for the open fountains of Rome was delivered to the city via a intricate system of water aqueducts.Contemporary Garden Decor: Outdoor Fountains Roots 41009199947.jpg

Contemporary Garden Decor: Outdoor Fountains and their Roots

A fountain, an incredible piece of engineering, not only supplies drinking water as it pours into a basin, it can also propel water high into the air for an extraordinary effect.

Originally, fountains only served a practical purpose. People in cities, towns and villages received their drinking water, as well as water to bathe and wash, from aqueducts or springs in the area. Used until the nineteenth century, in order for fountains to flow or shoot up into the air, their origin of water such as reservoirs or aqueducts, had to be higher than the water fountain in order to benefit from gravity. Fountains were not only utilized as a water source for drinking water, but also to adorn homes and celebrate the designer who created it. Bronze or stone masks of animals and heroes were commonly seen on Roman fountains. Muslims and Moorish garden designers of the Middle Ages included fountains to re-create smaller versions of the gardens of paradise. King Louis XIV of France wanted to demonstrate his superiority over nature by including fountains in the Gardens of Versailles. The Romans of the 17th and 18th centuries created baroque decorative fountains to glorify the Popes who commissioned them as well as to mark the spot where the restored Roman aqueducts entered the city.

Indoor plumbing became the main source of water by the end of the 19th century thereby restricting urban fountains to mere decorative elements. Gravity was replaced by mechanical pumps in order to enable fountains to bring in clean water and allow for beautiful water displays.

Decorating city parks, honoring people or events and entertaining, are some of the purposes of modern-day fountains.Origins Contemporary Wall Fountains 758082791775692.jpg

The Origins of Contemporary Wall Fountains

The translation of hundreds of ancient Greek documents into Latin was commissioned by the learned Pope Nicholas V who ruled the Church in Rome from 1397 till 1455. Beautifying Rome and making it the worthy capital of the Christian world was at the core of his ambitions. At the behest of the Pope, the Aqua Vergine, a damaged aqueduct which had transported clean drinking water into Rome from eight miles away, was renovated starting in 1453. A mostra, a monumental commemorative fountain constructed by ancient Romans to mark the point of entry of an aqueduct, was a practice which was revived by Nicholas V. The present-day location of the Trevi Fountain was previously occupied by a wall fountain commissioned by the Pope and built by the architect Leon Battista Alberti. The aqueduct he had refurbished included modifications and extensions which eventually allowed it to supply water to the Trevi Fountain as well as the famed baroque fountains in the Piazza del Popolo and the Piazza Navona.

"Old School" Fountain Designers

Water fountain designers were multi-talented people from the 16th to the late 18th century, often serving as architects, sculptors, artisans, engineers and cultivated scholars all in one person. Leonardo da Vinci as a innovative intellect, inventor and scientific expert exemplified this Renaissance master. With his tremendous fascination regarding the forces of nature, he investigated the characteristics and movement of water and also systematically recorded his findings in his now celebrated notebooks. Coupling imagination with hydraulic and horticultural expertise, early Italian water feature developers modified private villa settings into amazing water displays full with emblematic meaning and natural beauty. Known for his incredible skill in archeology, architecture and garden design, Pirro Ligorio, the humanist, offered the vision behind the wonders in Tivoli. For the assorted estates close to Florence, other fountain builders were well versed in humanistic subjects and classical technical texts, masterminding the phenomenal water marbles, water attributes and water humor.