Mythic legends to modern wonders: Discover the world’s most breath-taking fountains

These fountains stand as remarkable testaments to human innovation, cultural legacies, and examples of unparalleled craftsmanship.

Abdullah Al Zobayer

Abdullah Al Zobayer

The Daily Star


File photo of a fountain. PHOTO: COLLECTED/ THE DAILY STAR

October 13, 2023

DHAKA – From the hearts of bustling city squares to the secluded sanctuaries nestled in the farthest reaches of our planet, fountains have consistently symbolised both elegance and magnificence throughout human history. While many fountains prior to the 18th century primarily fulfilled the utilitarian role of water supply, the evolution of technology has elevated these captivating displays of flowing water into a realm of artistry.

Today, they stand as remarkable testaments to human innovation, cultural legacies, and examples of unparalleled craftsmanship. So, prepare to be enchanted as we explore the astonishing beauty of the five most spectacular fountains around the world, where nature and human artistry converge in a symphony of splendour.

Latona Fountain, France

Located in the garden area of the Palace of Versailles, the Latona Fountain, or the ‘La Fontaine de Latone,’ is an iconic fountain commissioned by king Louis XIV of France. Designed by the famous architect André Le Nôtre, this extraordinary fountain tells the legend of Latona, a mythic character from Greek and Roman lore.

As the legend goes, Latona was the mother of Apollo, God of archery, and Diana, Goddess of the hunt, in the Greco-Roman world. One day on her travel, she tried to quench her thirst from a pool but was prevented by the local peasants. The insolent peasants hurled insult after insult at her and an enraged Latona laid a curse on them in return. As she left the fateful place with two of her children, she could hear the voices of men becoming croaks as the curse turned them into frogs.

The central piece of this marvellous fountain is Latona herself, accompanied by her children, and surrounded by frogs and turtles representing the cursed peasants. The easiest way to reach the Latona fountain is to take the RER line C train from Paris which will stop at Versailles Château Rive Gauche train station. It’s just a 10-minute walk to the palace from there.

The Palm Fountain, Dubai

The Palm fountain, located on the artificial island of Palm Jumeirah in Dubai, is the largest dancing fountain in the world and truly a sight to behold. As the name suggests, the fountain is designed to resemble giant palm trees covering an astonishing 14,000 square feet of area, which earned its place in the Guinness World Record.

However, the primary attraction of this record-breaking fountain is the iconic water show. The Palm is programmed to dance to a variety of songs, creating a synchronised spectacle of water, light, and music. The shows typically start at 7 in the evening, making for a stunning visual experience against the backdrop of the Arabian Gulf. Boat rides are also available for a more immersive experience!

The Palm is situated on the waterfront of The Pointe shopping centre and the shows are completely free of charge for public entertainment. Almost all the signs on Palm Jumeirah indicate the way to the shopping centre, and can easily be reached via taxi or the Palm Jumeirah monorail.

The Trevi Fountain, Italy

Often considered as one of the most beautiful examples of Baroque-style fountains, the Trevi fountain is an iconic landmark of the city of Rome. Located at the intersection of three roads in the Trevi district of the city, this famous symbol of love and faith was originally designed by Nicola Salvi and completed with the efforts of Giuseppe Pannini.

At the heart of the fountain stands a large sculpture featuring Neptune, the revered deity of the sea in Roman mythology, commanding a pair of horses, one displaying an untamed spirit while the other is calm, conveying a message about the ever-changing nature of the ocean. The Trevi is also illuminated at night, creating an astonishing spectacle.

The true fame of this fountain, however, comes from a local tradition. It is believed that if someone throws a single coin over his/her left shoulder, it will ensure a return journey to Rome. Two coins will guarantee a return trip and a new romance, and three coins will guarantee a return trip, a new romance, and marriage. The coins thrown in the fountain are regularly collected and donated to Caritas, a Catholic charity organisation.

The Buckingham Fountain, USA

The Buckingham Fountain is a magnificent example of basin style fountains designed by Edward H Bennett. Originally a gift from philanthropist Kate Sturges Buckingham to the city of Chicago in memory of his brother in 1927, this fountain has grown into one of the most iconic landmarks of the city since then.

The central focus of this stunning fountain is a rococo-style basin surrounded by four horses, each representing the states bordering Lake Michigan — Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin. With the basin spanning 280 feet in diameter and the capacity to propel water jets soaring up to 150 feet into the sky, the Buckingham Fountain offers a truly unforgettable spectacle during its water performances.

These water shows, however, run from April to October, and are closed down during the Winter. The Michigan & Van Buren (North) bus station is within walking distance of the fountain and can be reached from anywhere in the city.

Swarovski Fountain, Austria

A 20-kilometre trip from the city of Innsbruck will lead curious travellers to the charming village of Wattens, home to the renowned Swarovski Crystal Worlds. Welcoming visitors at the entrance of this extraordinary crystal museum is a colossal head known simply as ‘The Giant,’ towering at 56 feet in height and sprouting jets of water through its lips.

The unusually beautiful fountain offers a view that can only be described as an unparalleled and enchanting surrealistic spectacle that is truly incomparable to any other. Created by Austrian artist André Heller, this marvel of human artistry is indeed one of a kind. To reach this wonder, travellers may take shuttle buses available five times a day from Innsbruck or hire a taxi for more convenience.

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