The first public drinking fountain in London was opened by the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain Association, in April 1859. The opening was attended by thousands of the British public, and from then on, the association opened many such drinking fountains across the country.
A unique architectural element, fountains have had a long history. Back in the earlier days, fountains were a vital part of the town's architecture, and were considered as a piece of sculpture that contained flowing water. Today, fountains are considered more of a scenic element, used to beautify the surroundings of a landscape. Ever ready to experiment, modern architects have left no stone unturned in exploring and constructing unique fountain designs.
For instance, you may have heard of the Lotte Fountain in Busan, which is one of the largest indoor fountains in the world, in addition to being one of the best musical fountains. Another example would be the Tap Fountain in Spain, which effectively portrays the illusion of a tap, out of which water cascades down into a basin. In the paragraphs below, you will find some of the most famous fountains of the world.
1. The Bellagio Fountains
Constructed in front of the beautiful Hotel Bellagio, in Las Vegas, this is one of the most magnificent fountains in the world. The hotel organizes a Bellagio Fountain Show that runs every half an hour from 3 to 12 in the evening on weekdays, and from 12 in the evening to 12 in the morning on weekends. Apparently, these fountains cost around USD 40 million to build. They contain 1200 nozzles and 8000 meters of pipe, and can shoot up to 20,416 gallons of water up in the air at one time.
2. The Fontana di Trevi
Located in the Trevi district in Rome, Italy, it is around 86 feet high and 161.3 feet wide. According to local legend, a coin tossed in this fountain will ensure that you return to Rome in future. It is the largest Baroque fountain in Rome, and is one of the most famous fountains in the world. It encompasses enchanting sculptures―Neptune in the middle, surrounded by two tritons. One of them is depicted blowing a shell-horn, while the other is shown to tame a horse.
3. The Magic Fountain of Montjuïc
Located in the Montjuïc region of Barcelona, Spain, this fountain is one of the most beautiful and frequented tourist spots. It was constructed in 1929 as a light show for the Barcelona International Exposition. Over the next few decades, music and other aesthetic elements were added. The Summer Olympics held in 1992 saw the restoration of this fountain. Even today, you'll find thousands of tourists flocking to watch this magnificent fountain in all its wondrous beauty.
4. The Fountain of Wealth
The Fountain of Wealth is located outside the Suntec City shopping mall in Singapore. Back in 1998, the Guinness Book of World Records named it as the largest fountain in the world. It spreads over an area of more than 1600 sq. m, and its height is around 42 feet. The public can not only toss coins in, but also retrieve them for good luck. Special laser light shows are organized in the evenings as well.
5. The Friendship of the Peoples Fountain
Also called 'Friendship of Nations ', this fountain is one of the main features of the All-Russian Exhibition Center in Moscow, Russia. It consists of 16 gilded statues of maidens, dressed in national costumes, which represent the Republics of the Soviet Union. It spreads over an area of 4000 sq. m. The water system is designed using eight water pumps that can shoot up to 1200 liters of water from 800 jets to a height of 24 meters.
6. The Fontana di Tivoli
This fountain is located in the Villa d'Este, Tevoli, Italy. It is also known as the Fontana dell'Ovato. The entire area is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The setting consists of cascading waterfalls from an oval-shaped basin into a lovely pool. The surrounding greenery of the lush gardens coupled with the fountains make for a fascinating and peaceful picnic site.
7. King Fahd's Fountain
Located along the coast of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, it is one of the tallest fountains in the world, and is also called the Jeddah Fountain. It has been designed to shoot water jets up to 312 meters in the air, and this outstanding sight can be seen throughout the entire city. More than 500 lights are used for illumination, and the water is collected from the Red Sea.
8. The Archibald Fountain
It is one of the best public fountains in Sydney, Australia. It is also called the 'J. F. Archibald Memorial Fountain', and its design has been inspired from the ancient Greek and Roman cultures. It was unveiled in the year 1932, to celebrate the association of France and Australia post the First World War. The fountain contains a bronze Apollo and other statues.
It is located in the Peterhof Palace, Saint Petersburg, Russia. The Peterhof Palace encompasses many landscaped gardens and exquisite palaces, collectively referred to as the 'Russian Versailles'. It was founded in 1710 by Peter the Great and has many fountains and statues and other architectural elements. The Samson Fountain is one of the most famous among them, and was built in 1730. It symbolizes the Russian victory over Sweden in the Great Northern War. The fountain depicts Samson tearing open the jaws of a lion, representing their victory. The fountain consists of other ornate statues and dazzling water cascading down the Baltic Sea.
10. The Swarovski Fountain
This has to be one of the most unique fountains in the world. It is located at Swarovski's Innsbruck Museum, in Crystal Worlds (Kristallweltenstrasse), Austria. It is constructed from a grassy head and face, fitted with a nozzle, out of which water gently flows into a pool. Designed by Andre Heller, the face has two crystal eyes―the entrance to the museum. After extensive renovation, the park was reopened in May 2015, and the interiors of the museum contain delicate Swarovski glass.
11. The Kanazawa Fountain Clock
This is one of Japan's most unique fountains. It is actually a clock located outside the Kanazawa train station in Japan. The background comprises a series of miniature fountains. The unique feature of this fountain is that the clock has been designed to display the time―numbers and letters―in different languages. This is achieved by means of a hi-tech valve system.
12. The Longwood Garden Fountain
Located in Kennet Square, Pennsylvania, and constructed in 1931, this fountain consists of an array of 18 pumps and 380 nozzles that shoot around 10,000 gallons of water 130 feet in the air. The fountain was fully functional in the mid-1930s. It is situated amidst exotic, landscaped gardens.
13. The Scioto Mile Fountain
It is located in Columbus, Ohio, and is open from April to October for the public. It spreads over an area of 15,00 square feet and encompasses 5 stainless-steel structures with 1,100 nozzles. Jets of water are propelled via a central halo up to a height of 75 feet in the air. The water is supplied through an underground reservoir that has a capacity of holding more than 10,000 gallons of water.
Dubai boasts of some of the most beautiful fountains in the world. Popularly known as the 'Dancing Fountain', this structure is located on the 30-acre lake that houses some of the most expensive buildings along its shores, one of them being, the magnificent Burj Khalifa. The fountains comprise 25 projectors and 6,600 LEDs for the light and color display. It is one of the brightest spots in the Middle East. Essentially, the fountain has five circular rings that shoot jets of water about 50 stories high! The fountains are a regular display and span over 900 feet.
One of the most creative, unique fountains in the world, located in Chicago, it comprises a reflecting pool constructed from black granite, between two buildings. The pool displays digital images , by means of LEDs, of the Chicago public who volunteered to be a part of the project. The video clips also display waterfalls. The footage displays the faces of the residents puffing out their cheeks, and a jet of water is shot out of the screen, by means of a hidden nozzle. It is well and truly a sight to behold.
16. The Jet d'Eau
It is a symbol of Geneva, and a spectacular tourist attraction. Back in 1886, a hydraulic power station was constructed for water supply to the city's households and factories. However, excess pressure required that a valve be constructed for relief. This is how the Jet d'Eau was launched. The mighty jet of water that spurted out of the valve became a popular tourist attraction, so much so, that the valve was shifted closer to the shore. The valve shoots up to 132 gallons of water per second.
17. The Banpo Moonlight Rainbow Fountain
Located in Seoul, Korea, it is the world's longest bridge fountain. The water is supplied through the River Han, and the fountains shoot water horizontally in the air to around 141 feet. The spectacular light and color display can be attributed to the use of 10,000 LEDs. There are 380 water jets along both sides of the bridge that spans 370 feet. The jets shoot 190 tons of water per minute.
18. The Palace of Versailles Fountain
The Palace of Versailles complex near Paris, France, contain a series of perfectly manicured, landscaped, French-style gardens and groves, magnificent sculptures, and soothing, dazzling fountains. It is also designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The many fountains that form a part of this Palace complex have been inspired by Roman mythology, and they include the Bacchus Fountain, the Mirror Fountain, the Saturn Fountain, the Apollo Fountain, and many more.
Located at the center of Grant Park, Chicago, it is one of the largest fountains in the world. There are colorful public display shows every evening, from April to October, and during winter, the fountain is adorned with exquisite lights. The design of the fountain is inspired from the Palace of Versailles, and resembles a large, royal, wedding cake. It was constructed at a price of USD 750,000 and was donated to the city by Kate Buckingham, in the loving memory of her brother, Clarence Buckingham.
20. The Big Wild Goose Pagoda Fountains
Located in the southern region of the Xian province of China, this fountain is reputed to be the largest musical fountain in Asia. The Big Wild Goose Pagoda is actually a building that was constructed in the Tang dynasty, during the reign of Emperor Gaozong. The building is ancient and is considered a holy place for followers of Buddhism. Colorful yet sanctimonious, it contains the longest light-belt in the world.
It is located in the Waterfront Park in Charleston, South Carolina. It opened in the year 1990 and is the main attraction in the park. It is shaped like a pineapple; the top part containing the closely-cloistered leaves, while the shape of the rest of the fruit seems to be divided into layers. Water cascades down in a circular basin and is decorated with incandescent lights in the evenings. The entire park consists of a myriad of brilliantly-colored flower beds, lush green meadows, and walkaways.
22. The Merlion Front
The Merlion is actually a kind of sea-lion, a traditional creature with the face of a lion and the body of a fish. It is considered a symbol of Singapore, though it does not feature in any of its folk tales. The Merlion Front is a fountain that is located in front of the Fullerton Hotel, Singapore. It consists of a magnificent white statue of the Merlion, emitting a jet of water from its mouth into the sea.
23. The Vaillancourt Fountain
It is a very unique piece of architecture, comprising square tubes made of concrete. It is located in the Justin Herman Plaza, close to the Embarcadero and the Hyatt Regency Hotel, in San Francisco, California. The structure weighs about 700 tons and is about 40 feet tall. It has been a controversial subject over the years, and has received an equal share of praise and criticism.
There are many, many more unique, beautiful fountains in the world. As architects continue to come up with more creative ideas for constructing even more spectacular fountains, we can lie back in bliss and watch the incredibly magical and soothing sight of these wonderful architectural elements.