The Piazza Santa Maria Maggiore Fountain in Rome is located at the foot of the Column of Peace in the square in front of the Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica. Both column and fountain are the work of Carlo Maderno.
Piazza Santa Maria Maggiore Rome
Address: Piazza di Santa Maria Maggiore. Bus: 105. Metro: Termini, Vittorio Emanuele. Opening Hours: The monument can be seen from the outside. Entrance fee: Free. There is a taxi on the left side of the square (facing the basilica).
Column of Peace
The column on the Piazza di Santa Maria Maggiore used to adorn the Basilica of Constantine. The statue crowning the column represents Mary. It is now known as the Colonna della Pace (“Column of Peace”).
The column was placed here by order of Pope Paul V. The spot was chosen because four main roads used to come together here. The ones toward Porta San Lorenzo and Porta Maggiore do not exist anymore, since they were dismantled when Roma Termini was built. The other two roads went towards Santa Croce in Gerusalemme and towards Saint John Lateran.
The column was taken from the Basilica of Maxentius in the Roman Forum. It was the only one surviving of the eight columns that used to adorn this monument.
The bronze statue on top of the column was designed by the Frenchman G. Berthélot. In order to obtain enough bronze, some ancient canons were taken from the Castel Sant’Angelo and melted.
The enterprise was directed by Carlo Maderno. Maderno was so proud of his work that he requested to have it mentioned on his tomb. The tomb can be seen in the San Giovanni dei Fiorentini Church in the Via Giulia.
Santa Maria Maggiore Fountain
In 1615, Maderno placed the fountain in front of the column.
He probably had help from Gaspare de’ Vecchi in the construction of the fountain.
The water is supplied by the Acqua Felice Aqueduct.
It consists of a large square vessel, the short sides of which are slightly curved. On the long sides, two smaller tubs protrude. Two eagles, or perhaps dragons – it could have been either one, since both were symbols of the family of the then Pope, used to spew water into these two smaller basins.
A central balustrade supports a circular basin from which another jet of water falls.
Later, both the basin and the balustrade were replaced with smaller versions, and the eagles (or dragons) were removed entirely.