Fountain of the Four Rivers (Rome)

The Fontana dei Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers), which stands in the center of the Piazza Navona in Rome, is Bernini’s largest and most celebrated work (1648 to 1651).

Giant statues of the fountain symbolize what were considered the world’s four greatest rivers: the Nile, the Ganges, the Danube and the Rio de la Plata.
four rivers-4

The Danube represents Europe since it is a large river closest to Rome:danube

The Ganges River represents Asia; his long oar symbolizes the river’s navigability:ganges

The Rio della Plata is sitting on a pile of coins, which indicates the resources in America that could offer to Europe:plata

The Nile River is covered with a piece of cloth because the source of the Nile was then unknown (at least by Europeans). It’s said that Bernini disapproved the church building, thus he deliberately placed the Nile in front of the building and the other three seemed to turn away from the church in disgust:nile-2


The Fountain is topped by a Roman version of Egyptian obelisk.

The photos of the four individual river sculptures were from Google image search.

A year ago, I did a post for Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne. Bernini was able to tell the story and capture the transformation of Daphne and the movement of Apollo in one sculpture…


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