What Is The History Of The Trevi Fountain

The Trevi Fountain, or Formal Fontana di Trevi in Italian stands as the largest fountain in Rome. Located in the Trevi district, this colossal 97ft tall and 161ft wide fountain has been standing since the early 1700’s. In the modern day, it is considered an iconic landmark, and is depicted in many movies and TV shows. But how did it come to be? Let’s take a look at the history of one of Rome’s most iconic monuments.

Legend has it the fountain was commissioned by the Roman Empire in 19 BC when a young girl nonchalantly declared to the Roman founder, Marcus Agrippa, “There is a source of water veined underground here.” Years later when Agrippa followed her advice, the springs was found and an aqueduct was built to carry the water to the Roman baths. Built using travertine stone and with detailed sculptures designed by Nicola Salvi, the fountain’s construction was finished in 1762. Meanwhile the aqueduct was built using tufa and granite coming from the Lake Bracciano.

The Trevi Fountain became a great attraction since the 18th century and has been an important Italian cultural symbol. Through the years, it has become the site of several film scenes and documentaries. The most famous being Federico Fellini’s ‘La Dolce Vita’ featuring Anita Ekberg taking a dipping in the fountain. These days, it is one of Rome’s most visited attractions.

Over time, the Trevi Fountain has been carefully restored a few times, with the most recent restoration happening in 2015. Experts used a combination of aquatic engineering, mechanical engineering, and technological solutions to clean, restore and strengthen the fountain to its original grandeur. As such it remains the pride of Rome.

The Trevi Fountain was also the site of a turbulent socio political incident in the fall of 2012. With Rome under populist governance, locals protested the water usage policies put in place by the mayor. This lead to the fountain being turned off and dry for almost 3 months. Protestors made their way to the fountain in defiance, and before long Rome was back to its water wastage policies.


The Baroque architecture of the Trevi Fountain is one of its most distinguishing features. With statues of Oceanus, Abundance and Salubrity, the fountain presents an outstanding display of 18th century art and sculpture. Furthermore, the fountain also features several other statues and sculptures, such as the statues of Triton, Agrippa, the God Oceanus, the Goddess Abundance and Salubrity, and four Ancient gods of Aquatic Elements. The sculptures featured bring a unique sense of realism to the overall architecture of the fountain.


The Trevi Fountain is also known for the “throw a coin in the fountain” tradition. While it is said if the coin is tossed with your right hand over your left shoulder, it will bring good luck and ensure your return to Rome. There is no confirmed date as to when the tradition first began, but it has been said to have been around since ancient times. On average, the fountain collects around €3000 a day from these coins, which are donated to local charities in Rome.


Tourists from around the world make their way to the Trevi Fountain everyday. Despite paying the entry fee and being subject to numerous restrictions, it still remains an incredibly popular tourist destination. From the tourists’ perspective, the fountain provides a spectacular display of art, water and sculpture. It also gives one the opportunity to go back in time and experience the grandeur of Baroque architecture. As such, it is no surprise the fountain boasts some 8 million visitors a year from around the world.


From its humble beginnings in 19 BC to its current status as an iconic monument, the Trevi Fountain has provided a plethora of stories to talk about. It has been at the centre of protests and rallies, been a muse for film makers, displayed exceptional Baroque architecture, and has also been a site of immense tourism. This all culminating in it being recognised as one of the most popular landmarks in Rome and the world. What more can be said about one of the Eternal City’s most prized possessions?

Herman Shaw is a passionate traveler and avid photographer who has seen many of the world's most awe-inspiring monuments. He has developed expertise in various aspects of world architecture and culture which he enjoys sharing with his readers. With deep historical knowledge and insight, Herman's writing brings life to these remarkable artifacts and highlights their importance in the grand scheme of human history.

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