The Fontana dell’Acqua Felice, also called the Fountain of Moses, is a monumental fountain located in the Quirinale District of Rome.
The fountain of Moses was designed and built in 1587 by Domenico Fontana, Sixtus the Fifth Peretti’s (1585-1590) favorite architect and author of many of the building enterprises undertaken by the “papa tosto” (the strong-minded pope) to renovate the appearance of the City at the end of the sixteenth century. The fountain is the fountain of the Acqua Felice, the aqueduct that Sixtus the Fifth (in the world Felice Peretti) brought to the Quirinal, Viminal and Esquiline Hills, where incidentally his large suburban villa was located, partly reusing the ancient Aqua Alexandrina.
The large statue of Moses that gives the name to the fountain is placed within the niche in the central arch.The work is by Leonardo Sormani and Prospero Antichi and was not very much appreciated from its first appearance. The bas-reliefs in the side niches both represent biblical subjects and are works by Flaminio Vacca on the right, and Giovanni Battista della Porta on the left. An unusually large attic contains a long epigraph celebrating the work, surmounted by the pope’s coat of arms with the two Fames on the sides, also by F. Vacca and G. B. della Porta. The four lions below are copies of Egyptian originals kept in the Vatican Museums.
The Fountain of Moses was the first of the many monumental fountains that were installed in the city of Rome after the Middle Ages. The fountain is named for the large statue of Moses that stands at its center.
At the beginning the reign of Pope Sixtus V, only one of the ancient Roman aqueducts which brought water to the city, the Aqua Vergine, was still being maintained and working. Everyone in Rome who wanted clean drinking water had to go to the single fountain near the site of today’s Trevi Fountain.
Pope Sixtus took on the responsibility of restoring other aqueducts, including the Acqua Alessandrina, which he renamed Acqua Felice after himself. The new fountain that marked the terminus of the restored aqueduct was the first new monumental wall fountain in Rome since antiquity.