Fountains and obelisks

So far, I’ve seen many different styles of Roman architecture from various eras, but what I did not expect to find were Egyptian obelisks in Rome. Obelisks are spread throughout the city of Rome, and have been there since B.C. years. They were brought back either as war trophies or gifts from Egyptian pharaohs, or were made here in Rome. As of today, there are only about 13 obelisks left standing, and they all vary in age and size. None of them stands today in the original place where they were erected. As a matter of fact, most don’t even stand today, as they were destroyed with the rest of the Roman ruins.

Of all the obelisks, the one that stood out to me was the one in Piazza Navona, just a few blocks from where we go to school. The obelisk sits on top of what is called Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, or Fountain of the Four Rivers. It was originally built by a 17th-century architect named Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

EM.2016.04.18 Fountains
An obelisk sits atop the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi in Rome. (credit: Esteban Martinez)

The fountain is named so because it represents the four major rivers of the four continents that the popes’ influence had spread to. Africa is represented by the Nile River, Europe is represented by the Danube, Asia is represented by the Ganges, and the Americas are represented by the Rio de la Plata. Both the obelisk and the fountain are a sight to see. To this day, people are left in awe when they see that the base of the fountain has a rather giant hole in it and yet it is able to hold the heavy obelisk. It is a mystery to me, too, and if and when it ever falls, I definitely do not want to be in the area!

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