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Fountain of the Turtles
Fountain of the Turtles - click to enlarge

The Fountain of the Turtles, just setting up around 1587, under Pope Sixtus V, was highly appreciated, as to attribute the authorship to Raphael or Michelangelo, but in reality it was designed by the great Giacomo Della Porta.

The fountain is fed by the “Aqua Virgo”, or the Virgin Aqueduct, built and opened 19 B.C. by Agrippa, son-in-law of Augustus, to feed the Baths of Agrippa and the adjacent swimming pool called "Stagnum Agrippae" and not only that, even the water of the Trevi Fountain gushes out from the Virgin Aqueduct.
The fountain was originally set to Giudia (= Judaean) square (disappeared), but the powerful Mattei family obtained it was placed in the square that takes its name from them, since all of the square buildings were property of Mattei, ancient Roman family descended from Papareschi, who in the twelfth century gave Rome the Pope Innocent II. As Papareschi and  Mattei they had 12 cardinals

According to the first project each of the four youths with the bottom hand should hold the tail of a dolphin everyone spouting water that feeds small basins.

Fountain of the Turtles - the youths
Fountain of the Turtles, the youths - click to enlarge

While the upper hand had to support another dolphin, but to the insufficient water pressure the dolphins placed higher were abolished. The youths free hands were then used to hold the famous turtles.

The cartouches at the base of the fountain claim that Pope Alexander VII Chigi restored the fountain in the fourth year of his pontificate, that is in 1659. This fact has led some to argue that the tortoises were added by Bernini, but this is pure conjecture.

In the mid-nineteenth century, in a burst of bushfulness, the immodesty of the youths were covered, to return later in full view.

Fountain of the Turtles - the cartouches Fountain of the Turtles - the cartouches Fountain of the Turtles - the cartouches Fountain of the Turtles - the cartouches
Fountain of the Turtles, the cartouches - click to enlarge



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