Turtle Fountain Rome (Piazza Mattei)

The Fontana delle Tartarughe (Turtle Fountain) in Piazza Mattei in Rome was built in 1581 and was designed by Giacomo della Porta.

Turtle Fountain Rome

Turtle Fountain Rome
Turtle fountain in Piazza Mattei

Originally the fountain was to have been placed in the Piazza Giudea in what used to be the Jewish ghetto, but the influential Mattei family interfered and had it put in “their” square. The Ghetto did not get its own fountain, in the Piazza Cinque Scole, until 1591.

The Fountain of the Turtles is characterized by four marble shells in the central part of a square basin with concave sides. Four identical ephebes, sitting on dolphins are each holding up a turtle, which seems to be crawling up the shell covering the entire structure.

The dolphins were made by Taddeo Landini, while the turtles were added by Gianlorenzo Bernini, after a 17th century restoration. It is thought that in the initial project the turtles should also have been dolphins.

Fontana delle Tartarughe, Roma

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