The World’s 17 Most Beautiful Fountains

From Paris’s Stravinsky Fountain, which features a Niki de Saint Phalle statue, to Osaka’s Floating Fountain, these structures have enhanced the public landscape

fountains with water falling from themPhoto: Getty Images/Danita Delimont

Keller Fountain Park (Portland, Oregon)

Working with the firm Lawrence Halprin and Associates, landscape architect Angela Danadjieva designed Portland’s cascading Forecourt Fountain—later renamed for Ira Keller, the chairman of the Portland Development Commission. The fountain recalls the waterfalls of the Columbia River Gorge and 13,000 gallons of water flow through every minute. It became a local landmark after it was completed in 1970, and the New York Times architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable called the park “one of the most important urban spaces since the Renaissance.”

fountain with trees nearbyPhoto: Getty Images

Vaillancourt Fountain (San Francisco, California)

Set on the Embarcadero Plaza in San Francisco, the Vaillancourt Fountain was completed in 1971 by Quebecois Armand Vaillancourt. The fountain is made of concrete tubes and stands 36 feet tall and 200 feet long. It has been controversial since the beginning—San Francisco Chronicle critic Allan Temko said it looked like it had been “deposited by a giant concrete dog with square intestines”—and it was once spray-painted by U2’s Bono during a free concert.

fountains lit up at night by lights on streetPhoto: Getty Images

Champs-Elysées Marcel-Dassault Roundabout Fountains (Paris)

French designers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec designed this set of six fountains for Paris’s famous Avenue de Champs-Elysées. Each fountain features three branches which rotate around a central bronze mast. The branches include more than 250 Swarovski crystal elements and are illuminated by LEDs at night. The brothers designed the over-42-foot tall fountains to align with the surrounding trees.

silver fountain with mountains in backgroundPhoto: Alamy/Gregory Rykowski

Julie Penrose Fountain (Colorado Springs, Colorado)

Designed by architect David Barber and sculptor Bill Burgess, Continuum, the Julie Penrose Fountain, is set in America the Beautiful Park in Colorado Springs and frames views of Pikes Peak. The four-story steel spiral sprays water from 366 jets as it rotates, and is a popular spot in the summer. The fountain was commissioned by the City of Colorado Springs and was installed in 2007.

fountain coming from the side of a mountainPhoto: Getty Images/Jill Ann Spaulding

Swarovski Fountain (Innsbruck, Austria)

Austrian artist André Heller created this fantastical fountain, which forms the entrance to Swarovski Crystal Worlds. The plant-covered structure, known as the Giant, houses the subterranean Chamber of Wonder, featuring designs and experiences by artists such as Brian Eno and Yayoi Kusama. The fountain in the nearly 56-foot-tall head of the Giant spills into a large pool.

fountain with several colorful displays in waterPhoto: Getty Images

Stravinsky Fountain (Paris)

Sculptor Jean Tinguely and painter Niki de Saint Phalle created the spirited fountain on Paris’s Igor Stravinsky Square. The artistic duo took inspiration from the music of the 20th-century composer, creating 16 abstract and whimsical figures, many painted in vibrant colors, which correspond to compositions such as “The Firebird” and “Death.” The fountain, which opened in 1983, is located near the Centre Pompidou.

colorful bridge with water fountain from the sidePhoto: Getty Images/Matt MacDonald

Banpo Bridge (Seoul, South Korea)

The Banpo Bridge, which crosses the Han River, is home to the Moonlight Rainbow Fountain. The 3,740-foot fountain—the longest bridge fountain in the world, according to the Guinness Book of World Records—includes 380 nozzles that spray recycled water into the river below. Ten thousand color-changing LED lights create a stunning rainbow effect at night.

indoor water fountain in mallPhoto: Alamy/Michael DeFreitas Middle East 

The Divers Fountain (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)

Fountains are often found in malls, but few quite as dramatic as this fountain at the Dubai Mall. Figures of human divers appear to soar through the air in front of a wall of cascading water. The four-story structure was designed by Singapore-based architecture firm DP Architects.

face sprouting water as water fountain in parkPhoto: Getty Images/Rick Gerharter

Crown Fountain (Chicago)

Located in Millenium Park in Chicago, the Crown Fountain is a public art piece by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa. The interactive fountain consists of two 50-foot glass-block towers set in a black granite pool. LEDs screens showcase the faces of 1,000 Chicago residents and the water feature operates from mid-spring to mid-fall.

water fountain lit by lights at nightPhoto: Alamy/David Wall 

Tunnel of Surprises (Lima, Peru)

Visitors to Parque de las Reversas in downtown Lima can walk through a 115-foot tunnel composed of arcs of water. The park’s Magic Water Circuit includes 13 fountains which are featured in music, water, and light shows on Tuesdays through Sundays. The park, which opened in 2007, holds the record for the largest fountain complex in the world.

Place des Quinconces and Girondins monumentPhoto: Getty Images

The Monument aux Girondins (Bordeaux, France)

Located on the Place des Quinconces in Bordeaux, the fountain was designed between 1894 and 1901 by the architect Julien Guadet. Framed by two pools, adorned with seahorses, and topped by a 177-foot-high column, the dramatic structure was created in memory of the Girondin deputies who were victims of the French Revolution, ordered to be executed by Robespierre in October 1793. Appearing like a theatrical set, more than 34 symbolic sculptures are frozen in motion—part-horse and part-fish, seahorses leap at the foot of the 141-foot-high column. Located opposite the city’s Grand Théâtre, the fountain both commemorates the Girondins and celebrates the eventual victory of the French Republic.

Fontaine de TrviPhoto: aoldman/Getty Images

The Trevi Fountain (Rome, Italy)

The largest and most famous fountain in Rome, the Trevi Fountain is a pinnacle of 18th-century Baroque style. Designed between 1732 and 1762 at the request of Pope Clement XII, the 85-foot-high fountain features sculptures of Neptune, the Roman god of the sea, and other mythical figures. The fountain has appeared in a number of movies, perhaps most famously in the 1960 film La Dolce Vita when Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg take a midnight dip there. The fountain always attracts crowds, and many visitors continue a long tradition, throwing a coin, or several, into its basin. Legend has it that if you throw one coin, you will return to Rome; two coins, and you will find your love there; and three coins, you will marry in the city.

Beautiful sunset of Grand Palace or Wat Phra Kaew is landmark in Bangkok ThailandPhoto: Dragonite East/Getty Images

The Fountain of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Bangkok, Thailand)

Also known as Wat Phra Kaeo, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha is a major tourist attraction and a must-see temple within the Grand Palace at the heart of Thailand’s capital. The namesake of the temple is a statue of Buddha that is 26 inches tall and 19 inches wide, carved of jade or jasper (“emerald” refers to the statue’s color, not the material used to make it). The figure most likely dates from the 15th century though its exact origins are uncertain. In front of the temple, just outside the palace walls, a beautifully illuminated fountain provides a colorful, dancing spectacle at the entrance to the royal complex.

Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya and Magic FountainPhoto: Vladone/Getty Images

Montjuïc Fountain (Barcelona, Spain)

Designed for the 1929 Universal Exhibition by the architect Carles Buïgas, the Art Deco fountain is an impossible-to-miss landmark in the Spanish city. Located in the Montjuïc neighborhood of Barcelona, it was damaged during the Spanish Civil War and restored for the Barcelona Olympic Games in 1992. The fountain offers a luminous and dancing spectacle at nightfall. Also known as the Magic Fountain, its giant pool has 4,760 spotlights illuminating the Palau Nacional and it contains some 3,620 jets of water that dance to the rhythm of a musical score.

Dubai Fountain sunset showPhoto: bennymarty/Getty Images

Palm Fountain (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)

With an area of more than 14,000 square feet, the Palm Fountain on the Palm Jumeirah artificial archipelago in Dubai is the largest fountain in the world. The spectacle of the fountain’s choreographed light and sound show can be admired from the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. As an iconic landmark of this capital of excess, it’s fitting that the Palm Fountain has more than 1,000 different water jet models, 6,600 lightbulbs, and 25 colored spotlights that bring the artificial lake to life. The fountain can project water up to almost 500 feet into the air. Surrounded by skyscrapers, the monumental fountain provides a dazzling show during both day and night.

Via Architectural Digest

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