Can fountains be considered couth or uncouth? Maybe? Whatever. The ones that we’ve encountered are both cool and compelling, if not couth (and WolfeStreetTravel always likes a pun, no matter how tortured it may be).
One of the common denominators to travel in Europe is the ubiquity of cool and compelling public fountains. Not decorative fountains serving as atmospheric – but nonfunctional – water features, like Trevi Fountain. We’re talking about fountains that serve as public drinking water sources in city and village squares all over the continent. We find them weirdly appealing and compelling (and sometimes gratifying, as was the case in the heat of the Southern Italy summer while biking through parched Puglia).
Because we don’t anticipate getting back into Europe for the next 6 months or more, we figured this would be a logical time to finally post the collection of cool-ass fountains that we’ve been aggregating by theme for several years into a single post. Again, weirdly appealing to us, with an emphasis on weird. What more can we say? So, we’re taking a quick break from posting on the Southeast Asia trip to finally put this one up on the site.
Thematically, you first got your stern- and angry-looking dude-with-additional-features-style public water fountains:
(We’ll acknowledge that this one isn’t actually a drinking water fountain, per se, considering the non-potable sign, but it’s absolutely included due to the reasons noted above.)
You got your lady fountains:
You got your creature fountains:
You got your always-popular lion fountains:
And, your lion / creature hybrid?
Finally, you got your truly utilitarian water fountains out in the country – in this case on rides in Italy and Spain.
And now for something completely different: Moroccan public water fountains. We thought we’d expand the theme of awesome European water fountain sculptures to the same function, but different approach, in Morocco, home to the “I shipped my pants” advertising campaign. Here, the public water fountains are all about the mosaic tile.
Further expanding the theme, here’s a couple of NON-potable water fountains, deviating from our original theme to a few decorative fountains. That are cool enough to qualify for the post: Antoni Gaudi’s tiled animal fountains, unique to Barcelona’s Parc Güell.
And finally, a further expansion to the drinking fountain theme – a stretch beyond which we really can’t expand further without diluting the original theme to oblivion.
And finally, a contribution from home: the weirdest freakin’ fountain-type sculpture in the DC metro area, as far as we’re concerned:
There are a series of these creepy fish dudes along Ohio Drive Bridge downtown, otherwise known as the Tidal Basin Bridge:
We’ve never known what they were, but whenever we bike or walk over this bridge, we’re always weirded out by them. Other than that awareness, though, we didn’t know anything else. But in posting this, we did find a Washington Post article that explains these, and why the dude’s a fish. “The bronze sculptures on the Ohio Drive SW bridge at the Tidal Basin were commissioned about 1987 in honor of Jack Fish’s forthcoming retirement from the Park Service. They are more correctly called grotesques, because they don’t have the rainspout that defines a gargoyle.” Jack Fish was director of the National Park Service’s National Capital Region until 1988.
So, they’re technically not the European city square drinking water fountains that we’re enamored with, but they’re thematically similar enough to include here.