• April 26, 2019

Turtle Fountain

Turtle Fountain

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Let us take you on Segways to another hidden gem of the city. They call this beautiful fountain Fontana Delle Tartarughe. It takes its place in district Sant’ Angelo. To be more concrete you will find it in Piazza Mattei. Our guides will recommend some restaurants and bars worth visiting in this area:)!

Turtle Fountain in Piazza Mattei

Charming mannerist Turtle Fountain takes its name after the four turtles situated on the top of the fountain

Piazza Mattei

In the beginning, they wanted to place this fountain to another square nearby. Due to the pressure of Muzio Mattei, they decided to replace it to a square in front of his palace. In return, the Mattei family promised to pave the square and to keep the fountain clean. He finished his work in 1588. In the end, only four dolphins were used at the fountain. That’s because of the low pressure of water here. It didn’t allow the expected elevation of the streams.

The Turtles

Did you know that the turtles weren’t originally at the fountain? They added them later in 1658. The statues of ephebes were supposed to support the basin at the top of the fountain. In the end, their hands were too short and it looked strange and not ready. After later restoration under Pope Alexander VII, they decided to put in the hands of the ephebes little turtles to fill up this space. Now it looks like the ephebes are helping the turtles to get to the lake above them. This scene gave the fountain its name: the Turtle fountain. At the same year, they also put the fountain lower in the ground due to the low water pressure.

The blind window

There is a popular legend about the Turtle fountain. It says that Duke Mattei, whose palace overlooks the square with the fountain, succeeded in building it in only one day! This way he wanted to make an impression on his wife’s father. He thought that it might be the way to get permission for their wedding from him. After showing them his work on the Turtle fountain the next day in the morning, he decided to wall up the window. Do to making the window blind none else could later enjoy the same view which gave him the permission of marrying the love of his life.

The Jewish Ghetto

Did you know that Turtle Fountain takes its place in Jewish Ghetto? It was also the second oldest Jewish ghetto in the world. The first-ever found its place in Venice in North Italy. From where does the name come? Some people think that it refers to a Hebrew expression for separation. Actually, they broke down the wall around the Ghetto only in 1848. It was a decision of Pope Pia IX. Nowadays you can find here Jewish Synagogue with  Jewish Museum and many kosher restaurants.

The Tiber Island

This place has a beautiful atmosphere also at night. The fountain is lit up and water reflects breathtaking moving shades on the walls of Palazzo Mattei. In this area, you can find many cute narrow streets. It will give you the right Italian vibe when walking them down on your romantic date:)! Not very far from here, there is an island Isola Tiberina. On summer evenings you can visit the open-air cinema there. If you spare a night free we recommend you to enjoy this unforgettable experience:)!

Cats Sanctuary

Quite close to the fountain there is another large open-air area. Its name is Largo di Torre Argentina. In ancient times there used to be four temples here. On the steps of the middle, they killed Julius Caesar. Nowadays this place hosts 150 abandoned cats. There is a veterinary who looks after the cats. You can also enter this cast sanctuary for a little fee. They use this money after to buy food and vaccinations for the cats:)!