Fountain in Piazza d'Ara Coeli



Fountain in Piazza d'Ara Coeli


In 1589, Giacomo della Porta and Pietro Gucci, under the Pope’s direction, designed and constructed a fountain for the Piazza d’Ara Coeli on the Capitoline Hill, next to the Basilica of Santa Maria and the Cordonata, a location where the Pope’s accomplishment could be celebrated amongst the various visitors.

Conceived of a central column and jet which emerges from three levels of basins, this fountain, seemingly simple, especially compared to its monumental surroundings, is pragmatic in its design. The fountain’s structure allowed for its the dual purposes of promoting the Pope and providing fresh drinking water, or even a resting spot after visitors might have climbed the expansive Cordonata steps. Topped with three hills of Rome, the central column celebrates Sixtus V’s gift of fresh water to the Esquiline, Quirinale, and Capitol. As water overflowed from the upper basin into the second and third levels, it once provided drinking water for people and animals, respectively. It was also used "illegally" by women for washing their clothes. The fountain in the Piazza d’Ara Coeli showcases Sixtus V’s civic efforts to revitalize Rome and, in turn, immortalizes the Pope as an enduring leader for the Roman people.


Giacomo della Porta (designer)
Pietro Gucci (sculptor)


Rinne, Katherine Wentworth. "Aquae Urbis Romae." Waters of Rome.

Morton, H. V. The Fountains of Rome. New York: Macmillan, 1966.

Pulvers, Marvin. Roman Fountains: 2000 Fountains in Rome: A Complete Collection. Roma: "L'Erma" Di Bretschneider, 2002.


Comune di Roma


1589 - June 28, 1590




Rome, Italy


Giacomo della Porta (designer) Pietro Gucci (sculptor), “Fountain in Piazza d'Ara Coeli,” Italian Baroque Art, accessed January 24, 2021,