Many of you have probably heard of the Trevi Fountain in Rome, and you’ve probably seen the famous Bellagio Fountain in Las Vegas, either in person or while watching the movie Ocean’s 11.
While there’s no doubt that these are both spectacular sights to behold, however, they only represent a small percentage of the incredible fountains that you can currently find around the world. From Stockholm to Sunderland, from China to Peru, this list compiled by Architecture & Design showcases some of the quirkiest, cleverest, and most beautiful fountains we could find. Some rotate. Others light up. A few even seem to defy gravity. But one thing they all have in common is that they’re sure to leave you in awe.
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01. Water Boat Fountain, Valencia, Spain
Located at Playa de la Malvarrosa in Valencia, Spain, and known simply as Water Boat Fountain (or Fuente del Barco de Agua in Spanish), this sculptural fountain gives the illusion of a sailboat with jets of water. There are also other water boat fountains in Portugal and Israel.
02. Osaka Station Fountain-Clock, Osaka, Japan
Nothing can describe how mesmerizing the water fountain at the Osaka City Station in Japan is. The attraction, located in the South Gate Building of the new Osaka Station City complex, consists of a large rectangular water fountain that displays a digital-style time readout, moving floral patterns, and falling shapes in the collapsing wall of water.
Designed by the local firm Koei Industry, the fountain works using a digitally controlled printer that ejects water droplets in carefully controlled patterns to reproduce images that are stored on a PC. The water droplets are illuminated by overhead lights.
03. ‘The Mustangs Of Las Colinas’, Texas, USA
Mustangs at Las Colinas is a bronze sculpture by Robert Glen, that decorates Williams Square in Las Colinas in Irving, Texas. It is said to be the largest equestrian sculpture in the world. Although the Kelpies in Falkirk, Scotland is the confirmed largest. The sculpture commemorates the wild mustangs that were historically important inhabitants of much of Texas.
It portrays a group running through a watercourse, with fountains giving the effect of water splashed by the animals’ hooves. The horses are intended to represent the drive, initiative, and unfettered lifestyle that were fundamental to the state in its pioneer days. The work was commissioned in 1976 and installed in 1984.
04. Banpo Bridge, Seoul, South Korea
The Moonlight Rainbow Fountain is the world’s longest bridge fountain that set a Guinness World Record with nearly 10,000 LED nozzles that run along both sides that is 1,140m long, shooting out 190 tons of water per minute. Installed in September 2009 on the Banpo Bridge, former mayor of Seoul Oh Se-hoon declared that the bridge will further beautify the city and showcase Seoul’s eco-friendliness, as the water is pumped directly from the river itself and continuously recycled.
The bridge has 38 water pumps and 380 nozzles on either side, which draw 190 tons of water per minute from the river 20 meters below the deck, and shoots as far as 43 meters horizontally.
05. Magic Tap, Cadiz, Spain
This “Magic Tap” can be found at Aqualand in Cadiz, Spain. At first glance, it looks as if the tap is levitating, but upon closer inspection, you’ll find that there’s actually a pipe hidden in the stream of water that’s holding up the entire structure. Still looks pretty cool though!
Image credits: Wikimedia
06. Vortex Fountain ‘Charybdis’, Sunderland, UK
Charybdis was created by the water sculptor William Pye in 2000 for the luxury Seaham Hotel and Spa, near Sunderland in Northern England. Charybdis is the name of a siren mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey, who was hit by a thunderbolt from Zeus that transformed her into a whirlpool as harsh punishment for stealing oxen from Hercules. Pye later built similar sculptures influenced by the story in Oman and Campinas, Brazil.
07. Giant – Entrance To The Swarovski Kristallwelten (Crystal Worlds), Wattens, Austria
The Swarovski Crystal Worlds (Swarovski Kristallwelten) is a museum, located in Wattens, Austria. The museum was built in 1995 in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Austria-based crystal company Swarovski. The Crystal Worlds Centre is fronted by a grass-covered head, the mouth of which is a fountain. We bet you’ve never seen a fountain like this before!
08. ‘Nine Floating Fountains’, Osaka, Japan
The Nine Floating Fountains are Japanese American artist and landscape architect Isamu Noguchi’s creation for the World Expo held in Osaka, Japan in 1970. These incredible fountains look as if they’re flying, and even though these fountains were built over 40 years ago, they are still as fascinating to behold as they were back then.
09. Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy
The Trevi Fountain is a fountain in the Trevi district in Rome, Italy, designed by Italian architect Nicola Salvi and completed by Pietro Bracci. Standing 26.3 meters (86 ft) high and 49.15 meters (161.3 ft) wide, it is the largest Baroque fountain in the city and one of the most famous fountains in the world.
The fountain has appeared in several notable films, including Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita and the eponymous Three Coins in the Fountain. The Trevi Fountain was finished in 1762, and it was refurbished in 1998.
10. ‘The Divers Fountain’, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
This incredible 24-meter tall water feature can be found in The Dubai Mall in the United Arab Emirates. Adorned with fiberglass sculptures of divers, and traversing all four levels of the indoor shopping precinct, The Waterfall was designed by Singapore-based DPA Architects and was opened in 2009.
11. Cascades Of Hercules Monument, Kassel, Germany
The Water features and Hercules within the Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe is a monumental Baroque and Romantic garden landscape. Water descends from the Giant statue of Hercules, passing a water-wheel-powered organ, various fountains, waterfalls, basins, and grottoes.
The dramatic water displays were laid out by Landgrave Carl of Hesse-Kassel from 1689 onwards, to display his power as an absolute ruler. He derived his ideas from Italian, French, and English examples of garden art. The Italian architect Giovanni Francesco Guerniero was hired for the design.
12. ‘Rainman’, Florence, Italy
Rainman (L’Uomo della Pioggia) is a contemporary masterpiece and was a gift to the City of Florence, done by the artist Jean-Michel Folon, short before Florence Social Forum of November 6-9, 2002. The bronze man stands over 3 meters high and the water falls down the summit of the statue, in the shape of an umbrella. It is located in the middle of a crossroad between Lungarno Aldo Moro and viale Enrico de’ Nicola, not far from Ponte di Varlungo.
13. Mosaïcultures Internationales, Montreal, Canada (Currently Closed)
Founded in 1998 by Lise Cormier, Mosaïcultures Internationales de Montréal is a not-for-profit corporation that designs, mounts, and maintains mosaic culture exhibitions, gardens, and works. Considered the world’s most prestigious competition of horticultural art, the event attracts some of the most impressive examples of mosaic culture from across the globe. One example is this fountain, named Mother Earth, that appeared in the 2013 exhibition.
14. Fountain “Tunnel Of Surprises”, Lima, Peru
The Túnel de las Sorpresas (Tunnel of Surprises) is a fountain in Lima’s Circuito Mágico del Agua (Magic Water Circuit), opened in 2007 at a cost of $13 million. Built within the Parque de la Reseva, a historic 19-acre (eight-hectare) park, the series of 13 illuminated fountains has since proved a successful addition to Lima’s many attractions.
Upon its construction, the Magic Water Circuit made it into the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest water fountain complex in a public park. Some of the fountains are even interactive, such as the ever-popular Laberinto del Ensueño (Maze of the Dream). Getting to the center of the “maze” is more a matter of timing than navigation; a mistimed stride can land you right on top of a suddenly spewing jet of water!
15. Fountain ‘Metalmorphosis’, Charlotte, USA
Part sculpture, part fountain, part performance art, Metalmorphosis is the work of Czech sculptor David Černý. It’s 7.6m tall, weighs 14 tons, and consists of over two dozen stainless steel plates that rotate independently and periodically line up to form a massive human head. A raised pool surrounds the sculpture, and when the plates align, water pours out of the head’s mouth.
16. Keller Fountain, Portland, Oregon, USA
Keller Fountain Park is a city park in downtown Portland, Oregon, which opened in 1970. The central feature of the park is the concrete water fountain. Keller Fountain is often noted as a memorable feature of the public landscape in downtown Portland, and in 1999 was awarded a medallion from the American Society of Landscape Architects.
The fountain was designed by Angela Danadjieva using inspiration from waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge located east of Portland.
17. Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara Fountain, Ancient City, Thailand
This incredibly ornate fountain can be found in Thailand. It’s situated in a park called Ancient Siam (also known as Ancient City or Mueang Boran). Built-in 1963, Ancient Siam is dubbed the world’s largest outdoor museum, and the 320-hectare ‘city’ features 116 structures of Thailand’s famous monuments and architectural attractions.
18. Fountain At The Smithsonian National Museum Of African American History & Culture, Washington, D.C., USA
This beautiful portal-like fountain can be found at the Smithsonian National Museum Of African American History & Culture in Washington D.C, USA
Image credits: Brad Feinknopf
19. Nacka Fountain, Stockholm, Sweden
The “God, our Father, on the Rainbow” fountain in Nacka Strand, a suburb on the main waterway approaching central Stockholm, Sweden, was originally designed by Swedish sculptor Carl Milles as a peace monument and to celebrate the founding of the United Nations.
Marshall M. Fredericks, American sculptor and assistant to C. Milles for many years, made the statue in full scale from Carl Milles’ original in bronze at Millesgården. It was erected in 1995 and stands 24 meters high.
20. ’71 Fountain’, Ohio, USA
This stunning giant ring-shaped fountain is located on Highway 71 in Ohio, US.
Image credits: Kyle Wood
21. Julie Penrose Fountain, Colorado Springs, USA
Designed by David Barber and Bill Burgess, The Julie Penrose fountain at America The Beautiful park is an open loop of silvery-colored steel panels outfitted with 366 water jets that line the interior contours of the form. It sits on a hidden turntable so that it’s able to rotate every fifteen minutes. The fountain represents the life-giving movement of water between the atmosphere and the earth. Completed in 2007, the piece weighs 24 tons and is the size of a four-story building.
22. Fountain Of Montjuïc Palace, Barcelona, Spain
23. Unisphere Fountain, New York, USA
The Unisphere is a spherical stainless steel representation of the Earth, located in Flushing Meadows–Corona Park in the borough of Queens, New York City. The sphere, which measures 120 feet (37 m) in diameter, was commissioned as part of the 1964 New York World’s Fair. The Unisphere is one of the borough’s most iconic and enduring symbols.
Commissioned to celebrate the beginning of the space age, the Unisphere was conceived and constructed as the theme symbol of the 1964–1965 New York World’s Fair. The theme of the World’s Fair was “Peace Through Understanding” and the Unisphere represented the theme of global interdependence. It was dedicated to “Man’s Achievements on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe”.
24. The Fountain Of Wealth, Suntec City, Singapore
The Fountain of Wealth is located in one of Singapore’s largest shopping malls, Suntec City, and was constructed in 1995. A symbol of wealth and life, the Fountain Of Wealth is recognized since 1998 by the Guinness Book Of World Records as the World’s Largest Fountain. The bronze ring of the fountain is designed based on the Hindu Mandala, meaning universe, and is a symbolic representation of the oneness in spirit and unity and further symbolizes the equality and harmony of all races and religions in Singapore.
The fountain is made of silicon bronze and consists of a circular ring with a circumference of 66 meters supported on four large slanted columns. It occupies an area of 1683.07 square meters, with a height of 13.8m. The sand-cast silicon bronze, including all formwork and patternmaking, was designed, manufactured, and installed by DCG Design and Meridian Projects (from Melbourne Australia) in 1995. The base area of the fountain is 1,683 square meters. In the design plan of Suntec City, where the five tower blocks represent the fingers and thumb of a left hand emerging from the ground, the fountain forms the palm of the hand.
Apart from the jets of water cascading down from the ring, the center of the fountain also boasts a medium-sized water screen, used for nightly laser shows, as well as a large jet of water that is occasionally turned on and spouts higher than the top of the ring.
25. Oval Fountain In Villa D’este, Rome, Italy
The Villa d’Este is a 16th-century villa in Tivoli, near Rome, famous for its terraced hillside Italian Renaissance garden and especially for its profusion of fountains. It is now an Italian state museum and is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site.
The Oval Fountain was one of the first fountains in the garden and among the most famous. It was designed by Pirro Ligorio, the architect of the villa, as a water theater, spraying water in a variety of forms. It was begun in 1565 and finished in 1570.
26. ‘la Joute’, Montreal, Canada
La Joute (“the joust”) (1969) is a public sculptural installation by Quebec artist Jean-Paul Riopelle, a member of the Automatiste movement. It is currently located in Place Jean-Paul-Riopelle in the Quartier international de Montréal.The ensemble of bronze sculptures contains a central fountain surrounded by a number of freestanding abstract animal and human figures inside and outside the fountain basin.
The fountain operates on a kinetic sequence that takes about 32 minutes to complete. It begins a few minutes before the half-hour, every hour from 7 to 11 p.m. during the summer. The sequence starts when the fountain jet expands to form a dome over the sculptures. Then at the back end of the park, the grates on the ground start to mist. The 12 grates each mist, one after the other in sequence, take about 90 seconds to sequence from one to another until they reach the fountain.
After about 18 minutes, machines inside the fountain start to produce a particularly dense cloud. The fountain jet then turns into a dribble. On the hour, nozzles in a ring surrounding the central sculpture within the basin shoot up jets of natural gas through the water; these are lit by flame sources installed in the daises of some of the sculptures, producing a dramatic ring of flame.
The flame lasts for about seven minutes. The fountain itself stops. The misting stops, and then the fire is “doused” by the fountain which has restarted. The mist sequence, without the fire in the fountain, occurs every hour throughout the day.
27. The Pineapple Fountain, Charleston, South Carolina, USA
The Pineapple Fountain is a focal point of the Charleston Waterfront Park, which people have been enjoying since it opened in 1990. Pineapple motifs are common in Charleston because they represent hospitality.
28. King Fahd’s Fountain (Tallest In The World), Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
King Fahd’s Fountain, also known as the Jeddah Fountain, is a fountain in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the tallest of its type in the world. The fountain was donated to the city of Jeddah by King Fahd, hence its name. It was constructed between 1980 and 1983 and was launched in 1985.
Located on the west coast of Saudi Arabia, the fountain jets water to a maximum height, according to different sources, of anywhere between 260 meters (853 ft) and 312 m (1,024 ft) above the Red Sea. The fountain is visible throughout the vicinity of Jeddah. The water it ejects can reach a speed of 375 km/h (233 mph), and it uses saltwater taken from the Red Sea instead of freshwater. Over 500 spotlights illuminate the fountain at night.
29. Stravinsky Fountain, Paris, France
The Stravinsky Fountain (French: La Fontaine Stravinsky) is a whimsical public fountain ornamented with sixteen works of sculpture, moving and spraying water, representing the works of composer Igor Stravinsky.
It was created in 1983 by sculptors Jean Tinguely and Niki de Saint Phalle, and is located on Place Stravinsky, next to the Centre Pompidou, in Paris.
30. The Fountains Of Bellagio, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Bellagio is a resort, luxury hotel, and casino on the Las Vegas Strip in Paradise, Nevada. It’s well known for the Fountains of Bellagio, a vast, choreographed water feature with performances set to light and music. The fountains are set in an 8-acre (3.2 ha) manmade lake and it is estimated that the fountains cost $40 million to build.
The fountains were created by WET, a design firm specializing in inventive fountains and architectural water features. This fountain was the largest fountain in the world when it first opened but then surpassed by the Dubai Bay fountain and Okada Manila in 2010 and 2017 respectively.
31. Volcano Fountain, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (Demolished)
Built-in the 1980s, elevated on a circular pier on the Corniche near the foot of Muroor, the fountain looked like something from The Flintstones, “a page right out of history”. Also known as Al Shallal (waterfall in Arabic), the stone-paved fountain, surrounded by tiered gardens with flights of stairs leading up to its base, was lit up at night to give the cascading water the appearance of lava.
Abu Dhabi’s Volcano Fountain wasn’t alone in the world: one was built at Honolulu International Airport in the 1960s and a more grandiose version entertains crowds at the Mirage hotel in Las Vegas. But Abu Dhabi still takes a place of honor in online lists of the world’s most beautiful fountains, along with the Trevi Fountain in Rome and the Bellagio Fountains in Las Vegas. It was demolished in 2004 as part of a redevelopment initiative.
32. Fountain Of Alexander The Great, Skopje, Macedonia
On 21 June 2011, the Republic of Macedonia erected the largest statue of Alexander the Great in the world. As cranes lifted the bronze statue on top of the pedestal, hundreds of Macedonians sang the national anthem and other patriotic songs, waving flags and shouting “Macedonia!” The equestrian bronze statue of the Macedonian king riding his horse Bucephalus is 14.5 m (47.6 ft) tall and weighs 48 tons.
Alexander is depicted as brandishing his sword high in his right hand as if he had just given the command for an attack. His left hand is restraining his rearing horse Bucephalus. Symbolically he is facing east toward Asia, in direction of Persia. The massive bronze rests on top of a 10 m (32.8 ft) tall cylindrical column pedestal which is a centerpiece of a large circular fountain. The complete structure rises 24.5 meters (80 feet) into the skyline and dominates the Skopje downtown square “Macedonia”.
33. Vaillancourt Fountain, San Francisco, California, USA
Vaillancourt Fountain, sometimes called Quebec libre!, is a large fountain located in Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco, designed by the Québécois artist Armand Vaillancourt in 1971. It is about 40 feet (12 m) high and is constructed out of precast concrete square tubes.
Long considered controversial because of its stark, modernist appearance, there have been several unsuccessful proposals to demolish the fountain over the years. It was the site of a free concert by U2 in 1987 when lead singer Bono spray painted graffiti on the fountain and was both praised and criticized for the action.
34. The Dubai Fountain, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
The Dubai Fountain is the world’s second-largest choreographed fountain system set on the 30-acre manmade Burj Khalifa Lake, at the center of the Downtown Dubai development in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates next to “The Fountain” Okada in Manila, Philippines. It was designed by WET Design, the California-based company responsible for the fountains at the Bellagio Hotel Lake in Las Vegas.
Illuminated by 6,600 lights and 25 colored projectors, it is 275 m (902 ft) long and shoots water up to 500 ft (152.4 m) into the air accompanied by a range of classical to contemporary Arabic and world music. It was built at a cost of AED 800 million (USD $218 million). The fountain was officially inaugurated on 8 May 2009 along with the official opening ceremony of The Dubai Mall. On 2 January 2010, the length of Dubai fountains was increased to 275 m (902.2 ft).
35. Fountain Of Giant Wild Goose Pagoda, Xi’an, China
Located at the foot of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, the Music Fountain Square of Big Wild Goose Pagoda covers 168,000 square meters, with the pagoda being the central axis from south to north. It is made up of music fountains, cultural squares, garden landscapes, and tourist and commercial facilities and is an important part of the Xi’an Cultural Area of the Tang Dynasty.
As the highlight of the square, the 1024 music fountains controlled by water pumps and transducers are set on the central axis of the northern square in the shape of a “T”. When the fountains work in the evening, the artificial streams flowing from the ground make the square a world of colorful water with the embellishment of all kinds of light sources.
36. Toilet Bowl Waterfall, Foshan, China
Foshan, a city in central Guangdong province in China, has one of the strangest pieces of public art – a fountain built out of 10,000 recycled toilets, sinks, and urinals covering a wall 100 meters long and almost 5 meters high. The fountain/waterfall was originally designed for the 2009 Foshan Pottery and Porcelain Festival, a porcelain product tradeshow, before being installed as a permanent piece of public art. It is just one of the many impressive ceramic sculptures residing in Shiwan Park.
The “art piece” was created by Chinese artist Shu Yong, who along with his team, spent 2 months installing the toilets. The toilets are a mixture of unwanted factory seconds and ones donated by foreigners and locals. All the toilets and urinals are actually connected to a tap so that they could be flushed. The installation is flooded periodically, creating a cascading waterfall to the amusement of the onlookers.
37. Crown Fountain, Chicago, USA
Crown Fountain is an interactive work of public art and video sculpture featured in Chicago’s Millennium Park. Designed by Catalan artist Jaume Plensa and executed by Krueck and Sexton Architects, it cost $17 million and opened in July 2004. The fountain is composed of a black granite reflecting pool placed between a pair of glass brick towers.
The towers are 50 feet (15.2 m) tall, and they use light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to display digital videos on their inward faces. Plensa used the faces of 1,000 “ordinary” Chicagoans for the fountain. The School of the Art Institute found subjects by calling community groups around the city and asking for volunteers. They were videotaped sitting in an adjustable dentist chair.
38. ‘The Big Giving’ Fountain, London, UK
A fountain sculpture by artist Klaus Weber entitled ‘The Big Giving’ was displayed on the South Bank in central London between 2006 and 2007. Half a dozen sculptures made of stone and industrial waste featured water spurting in depictions of vomiting, sweating, crying, urinating, and spitting. Maybe that explains why it was only temporary!
Image credits: Stephan Burn
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