Fountain of the Four Rivers Rome
Fountain of the Four Rivers - Piazza Navona, Rome
In the center of Piazza Navona you can see the beautiful, famous and massive Fountain of the Four Rivers which was built in 1651 by the prominent architect Bernini.
Bernini mostly worked in Rome throughout his life. He was also an amazing sculptor and loved painting. The Renaissance geographers say that the Fountain of the Four Rivers represents the Gods of the four great rivers in the four continents: the Nile in Africa, the Ganges in Asia, the Danube in Europe and the Río de la Plata in America. Each scene adds the plants and animals of the specific country. The Ganges carries a long oar, representing the river's navigability. The Nile's head is draped with a loose piece of cloth, meaning that no one at that time knew exactly where the Nile's source was.
The Danube touches the Papal coat of arms, since it is the largest river closest to Rome. And the Río de la Plata is sitting on a pile of spilled out coins; a symbol of the riches Europe could take from America. The statues of the sea gods, which were made by Bernini’s students, rise from a circular basin. The Fountain of the four rivers is topped by the Obelisk of Domitian, brought here one piece at a time from the Circus of Maxentius, near Via Appia Antica. This obelisk, which is more than 34 meters high, is not originally from Egypt but was created in Rome. On the top you can see a pigeon which is a symbol of the Pamphili family.
People interpret the statues in a different way. Like we said above, Bernini and Borromini were two artistic rivals. Fate is that Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers is right in front of Borromini’s church of Sant'Agnese in Agone. The interpretation of the giants is as following: the statue of the Rio de la Plata supposedly portrays the fear of the churches facade collapsing which is expressed through the expression on his face and the held up hand which should protect him. The statue of the Nile covers its head so it doesn’t have to look at the church and the other two statues are positioned to turn away from the church in detestation.