Rome Sights

Fontana della Barcaccia (Leaky Boat Fountain)

  • Piazza di Spagna Map It
  • Piazza di Spagna
  • Fountain

Published 03/31/2016

Fodor's Review

At the foot of the Spanish Steps, this curious, half-sunken boat in Piazza di Spagna is powered by Rome's only surviving ancient aqueduct, the Acqua Vergine. The fountain's design, a ship sinking into the piazza, is a clever solution to low water pressure and was created by fountain genius Gian Lorenzo Bernini, together with his father Pietro. The project was commissioned by Barberini Pope Urban VIII as part of his restoration of the ancient aqueduct in an effort to bring more water to the area, which had built up considerably during the 17th century. The bees and suns on the boat are symbols of the Barberini family. Some insist that the Berninis intended the fountain to be a reminder that this part of town was often flooded by the Tiber; others claim that it represents the Ship of the Church; and still others think that it marks the presumed site of the emperor Domitian's water stadium in which sea battles were reenacted in the glory days of the Roman Empire.

Sight Information

Address:

Piazza di Spagna, Rome, Latium, 00187, Italy

Map It

Published 03/31/2016

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