The fountain of the Tortoises

You are along the route: THE ZOO OF WONDERS. STONE ANIMALS

Piazza Mattei
Always visible.

The fountain of the Tortoises is in the small piazza Mattei, surrounded by the palaces of the powerful family of the same name. It was built around a drawing by Giacomo della Porta between 1581 and 1588, with four bronze cherubs playing with four dolphins, balanced on shell-shaped basins. The tortoises were only added by Bernini in 1658. It is said that the Duke of the Mattei family, who loved gambling, one day lost his entire fortune in one swoop. His future father-in-law refused to give his daughter’s hand in marriage when he found out, so the Duke ordered the construction of this magnificent fountain in a single night. The following day, he called his future father-in-law and wife to his palace and made them look out of the window to admire the view. On seeing their wonderment, he exclaimed, “This is what a penniless Mattei is capable of making in a few hours!”

Picture by permission from Roma Capitale-Sovrintendenza Capitolina ai Beni Culturali
Further reproduction prohibited

How to get the step: The fountain of the Tortoises

Piazza Mattei, 00186 Roma, Italy


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