Acqua Vergine Fountain Rome
History and description
The Fontana dell’Acqua Vergine was commissioned by Pope Julius III. Construction took from 1552 to 1553. The monument stands against the outer wall of an annex of the Villa Giulia the pope had built outside the city walls. The pipes of this aqueduct ran through the papal villa itself.
The architects of this building as well as of the fountain were Ammanati and Vignola. They took their inspiration for its design from the ancient Roman “show fountains”.
After the pope’s death, his successor Pius IV confiscated the property. He then gave the part of the Villa Giulia facing the Via Flaminia to his nephews Federico and Carlo Borromeo. The latter, by the way, was later to be beatified.
Pius had the building enlarged by the Naples-born architect Pirro Ligorio. The fountain remained where it was, but the facade of the palace itself was raised considerably. It is likely that this is when the statues were placed on the roof.
The Pope’s coat of arms was placed above the fountain, on the top part of the facade, along with the inscription “Carlo Borromeo“.
In 1566 Filippo Colonna had the original inscription referring to Julius III replaced by an epigraph with his own name. The head of Apollo that used to adorn the fountain also had to make way for the mask, coat of arms and the two fountains visible today.
The coat of arms in the center of the tympanum belongs to Benedict XIV and was added in 1750.