Art History Lab

The Trevi Fountain: A Baroque Marvel and Symbol of Rome

The Trevi Fountain: An Iconic Symbol of Rome

When thinking of iconic landmarks in Rome, the Trevi Fountain is often top of most peoples list. Its incredibly beautiful design and rich history make it an integral part of the city’s identity, drawing thousands of visitors every day.

In this article, we will take a closer look at the Trevi Fountain, exploring its design, architecture, history, and restoration.and Design of the Trevi Fountain

The Trevi Fountain is located in the Trevi district of Rome, Italy, and is widely regarded as the largest and most famous fountain in the city. Designed by Italian architect, Nicola Salvi, the fountain was built in the Baroque style between 1732 and 1762.

It stands at 86 feet tall and is 161 feet wide, making it one of the most impressive fountains in the world.

Design and Architecture

The Trevi Fountain is an excellent example of the Baroque style of architecture, featuring numerous sculptures and intricate designs. The fountain’s central figure is the god of the sea, Neptune, flanked by two winged horses, one calm and one wild, representing the different moods of the sea.

Additional figures of Tritons, the Roman God of the waves, and other mythological sea creatures also adorn the fountain. Nicola Salvi, the architect responsible for the Trevi Fountains design, was commissioned to create the fountain after winning a competition organized by the Roman Academy of Arcadia in 1732.

He was aided by Antonio Canevari in the design’s early stages. However, due to financial issues and Salvi’s death in 1751, the project was only completed in 1762 by Luigi Vanvitelli and Ferdinando Fuga.

Location and Name

The Trevi Fountain is located in the heart of Rome, sitting at the junction of three roads. It gets its name from the district in which it is located, known as Trevi, which translates to three streets.

The fountain’s name in Italian is Fontana di Trevi.

History and Restoration of the Trevi Fountain

The Trevi Fountain’s long and colorful history has seen it undergo numerous restorations, repairs, and renovations over the years. The fountain has also played a significant role in Roman culture and has been witnessed to some of the city’s most significant historical events.

Nicola Salvi and Construction

After winning the competition for the fountain’s design, Salvi began constructing the fountain in 1732. However, due to severe financial constraints, the project’s progress was slow, and Salvi did not live to see it completed.

It was only after Salvi’s death in 1751 that Luigi Vanvitelli and Ferdinando Fuga continued work on the fountain. The Trevi Fountain was finally completed in 1762, long after Salvi’s original design was conceived.

Restoration and Maintenance

Over the years, the Trevi Fountain has undergone various repairs and restorations to preserve its beauty and splendor. FouNdation Rome, an organization that manages the city’s artistic heritage, supervises the fountain’s maintenance.

A significant restoration was carried out by the luxury fashion house Fendi, which donated over $2.2 million to restore the fountain in 2015. The project took 20 months to complete and included the addition of LED lighting to illuminate the fountain’s sculptures at night.


The Trevi Fountain is one of the most iconic and breathtaking landmarks in Rome, attracting millions of visitors from all over the world every year. Its historic significance, magnificent design, and stunning architecture make it a cultural symbol of the city.

By exploring its history, design, and restoration, we can appreciate the Trevi Fountain’s true beauty and significance.

Iconography and Surroundings of the Trevi Fountain

The Trevi Fountain is an exceptional example of Italian Baroque architecture located in the Trevi district of Rome. This impressive fountain is not just a beautiful landmark but also has significant iconography and rich history.

In this part of the article, we will explore and understand the iconography and surroundings of the Trevi Fountain.

Design and Symbolism

The Trevi Fountain’s design is intricate and rich in symbolism and uses various sculptures and figures to convey different meanings and moods. The central figure of the fountain is Oceanus, the god of the seas and oceans.

He is shown riding a chariot pulled by two sea serpents, flanked by the god of health on one side and the god of wealth on the other. The figure of Oceanus is positioned amidst an elaborate composition of rocks, shells, plants, and sea creatures.

These elements not only enhance the aesthetic value of the fountain but also have symbolism and meaning attached to them. For example, the shell under Oceanus’s feet represents birth and regeneration, while the two Tritons driving the horses represent the changing moods of the sea, the calm and the violent.

Further symbolism can also be seen in the two statues located on either side of Oceanus – Salubrity, representing the fountain’s healing properties, and Abundance, representing the overflowing wealth of the papal states. At the top of the fountain is the papal coat of arms, symbolizing the fountain’s funding by Pope Clement XII.

Palazzo Poli

The fountain is situated against the backdrop of

Palazzo Poli, a grand palace that was once home to the Poli family. The palace was almost demolished to make way for the fountain in the early 18th century.

However, after the intervention of the pope, the palace was preserved as a backdrop for the fountain. Today, it is home to a museum that houses collections from the Baroque-era artist, Pietro da Cortona.

The palace is also the starting point of a walking tour of the historic center of Rome, known as the “Triumphal Arch.” The tour encompasses some of the city’s most iconic landmarks, including the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon, and the Piazza Navona.

Coin Throwing and Charity

A visit to the Trevi Fountain is not complete without participating in the tradition of throwing coins in the fountain, a popular superstition believed to bring good luck and ensure a return to Rome.

Tradition and Superstition

The tradition of coin-tossing in the Trevi Fountain dates back centuries. According to the tradition, visitors must throw a coin over their left shoulder with their right hand.

This is believed to guarantee their return to Rome. Millions of people throw coins into the fountain every year, making the fountain one of the world’s most popular tourist attractions.

Charity and Coin Collection

In addition to the coins thrown into the fountain, money is also collected and used for charitable purposes. The fountain’s coin collection takes place daily and yields a significant amount of money.

In 2016, an estimated $1.5 million worth of coins were collected from the fountain. The money collected from the fountain is managed by the city council and distributed among various charitable organizations, including Caritas, a charity that helps immigrant families and the poor.

The council also introduced a program that allows visitors to purchase top-up cards. The income from these cards goes towards funding food vouchers for families in need and a subsidized grocery store for the unemployed.


The Trevi fountain, with its rich history, intricate architecture, and complex iconography, is an essential landmark of Rome. It represents a beautiful work of art and a symbol of hope for visitors who throw coins.

The charity and philanthropic spirit associated with the fountain adds a positive humanitarian element to this iconic landmark.

Interesting Facts about the Trevi Fountain

As one of the most famous landmarks in Rome, the Trevi Fountain has a rich history and numerous fascinating facts. In this section, we will take a closer look at some of the Trevi Fountain’s most interesting facts.

Historical Significance

The Trevi Fountain is not just a significant landmark in Rome, but also plays an important role in Rome’s history as well as its daily life. It is the oldest water source in Rome, receiving water from the Aqua Virgo aqueduct, which still provides water to many parts of the city.

The fountain’s construction was instrumental in addressing the water scarcity problem in Rome during the 17th century. It was built to provide water to the many public fountains in the city, including the four major Basilicas of Rome.

Construction and Materials

The Trevi Fountains construction includes the use of some remarkable materials such as travertine stone, which is the same stone used in the Roman Colosseum and other ancient Roman structures. The fountain’s location was originally the site of a smaller fountain, which was dismantled to make way for the larger fountain.

The fountain further incorporates a complex system of pipes, channels, and spouts that allowed vast quantities of water to flow through it. This was an impressive engineering feat for the time, as the fountain was designed to move 80,000 cubic meters of water per day.

Color Changes

The Trevi Fountain has undergone several color changes over the years, including a more recent incident where a red liquid was poured into the fountain. Various artists have used different approaches over the years, causing the fountain to change its color.

In 1735, barely two years after the fountain’s completion, the monument was covered in a black material to mourn the death of Pope Clement XII. The black drapes remained in place for 11 days following the pope’s death.

In 2006, a prankster poured a soap-based red liquid into the fountain that turned the water’s color from turquoise green to red, creating a shocking sight that passed almost immediately. The incident initiated a renewed call for the preservation of the fountain’s sanctity.


The Trevi Fountain is an iconic landmark whose rich history and cultural significance make it one of the must-visit sites in Rome. It is not just a work of beauty but also an engineering marvel.

The many fascinating facts surrounding the fountain’s design, construction, and daily life continue to fascinate and intrigue visitors to this day. In conclusion, the Trevi Fountain stands as an iconic symbol of Rome, captivating visitors with its stunning design, rich history, and fascinating facts.

From its impressive Baroque architecture and intricate symbolism to its surrounding

Palazzo Poli and historical significance, the fountain is a testament to the city’s grandeur. The tradition of coin throwing and the charity associated with it not only adds a touch of superstition but also highlights the compassion and philanthropy of the Roman people.

With its historical significance, construction materials, and intriguing color changes, the Trevi Fountain continues to be a marvel and a must-visit destination. It serves as a reminder of the timeless beauty of art and architecture, as well as the enduring traditions and generosity of humanity.

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