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We passed by the Fontana dell Acqua Felice on our way up from the Amalfi Hotel to the Borghese Gardens. Also known as the Fountain of Moses (Fontana del Mosè in Italian), this work is not well known by tourists. But it is still very interesting.

Here are a few words about its history, its location and what we thought of it.

The history of the Fontana dell’Acqua Felice

At the end of the 16th century, Pope Sixtus V undertook to restore several aqueducts that were no longer able to deliver water to the city of Rome. The Acqua Alessandrina aqueduct became the Acqua Felice in reference to the pope’s baptismal name.

To honor this happy source of water, Pope Sixtus V engaged the services of the architect Domenico Fontana to build this porticoed fountain between 1585 and 1588.

Where is the Fontana dell’Acqua Felice?

The fountain is in the center of Rome, in the following square: Piazza di San Bernardo.

It is a 3-minute walk from the Basilica of Santa Maria dei Angeli e dei Martori and from the Repubblica metro station, and 12 minutes from the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore.

What is the Fontana dell’Acqua Felice?

the Fontana dell'Acqua Felice

The Fontana dell’Acqua Felice is a wall fountain. Like a triumphal arch, there are three arcades framed by columns. Under each of them, statues are installed. In the center, you can see a large sculpture representing Moses pointing to the water that springs from the rock.

Under the other two arches, biblical scenes are sculpted. To the right of Moses is a statue of Gedeon and his soldiers and to the left Aaron and the Exodus.

On the upper part of the fountain, an inscription pays homage to Pope Sixtus V, overhung by two angels that frame the papal coat of arms.


The Fontana dell’Acqua Felice is less impressive and in less good condition than the Trévi Fountain or other works in Rome, as there are so many of them. However, the fountain is quite big and decorated with beautiful sculptures. We enjoyed watching it for a few minutes before resuming our journey to the Borghese gardens.

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