The Fountain of the Moor in Rome’s Piazza Navona: all you need to know + tips for visiting

by marta

All you need to know about the Fountain of the Moor in Rome (Fontana del Moro): address, description, photos and tips for visiting this beautiful fountain in Rome’s beautiful Piazza Navona.

Rome’s Fountain of the Moor (Fontana del Moro) is one of the three fountains in Piazza Navona, in Rome’s city center.

The fountain is on the southern part of the piazza, in front of Palazzo Doria Pamphili: it is in a simmetrica position from the Fountain of the Neptune, at the other end of the piazza.

Between the two stands the Fountain of the Four Rivers, one of the most famous fountains in Rome.

The Fountain of the Moor tend to attract fewer visitors than it’s famous neighbor; however, it is a monumental, stunning piece of sculpture and worth noticing while exploring the piazza.

Today, we share info about this peculiar fountain, tips for visiting and some recommendations on what else to see in Piazza Navona and nearby area.

Piazza Navona in Rome with the Fountain of the Moor in the foreground

The Fountain of the Moor in Rome: facts and info

NameFontana del Moro / Fountain of the Moor
Year of construction1575
AuthorGiacomo dalla Porta, the refurbished by Bernini
ClientPope Gregory XIII Boncompagni 
MaterialPortasanta Marble
StyleRenaissance / Baroque
Water sourceAcquedotto Vergine (Virgo Aqueduct)
Opening hoursN/A
Tickets /AdmissionN/A
AddressPiazza Navona, 00186 Rome
Close up of the sculpture of the Moor in the Moor fountain in Rome

Location and how to get there

The Fountain of the Moor is in Piazza Navona, on the side of the square closest to Corso Vittorio.

Due to the pedestrian nature of the area, the fountain is best reached on foot.

Buses serving this area area include:  C3, H, 30, 40, 46, 62, 63, 64, 70, 81, 87, 119, 130, 186, 190, 271, 492, 571, 628, 780, 810, 916

The best time to see the Fountain of the Moor is early morning or sunset, when the crowds are low and the light bathes gently this stunning Rome Piazza and its marvels.

The Fountain of the Moor: History and description

Architect Giacomo dalla Porta designed the Fountain of the Moor in 1575, under the Pontificate of Pope Gregory XVIII Boncompagni.

The original fountain, fed by the Virgo Aqueduct, the same bringing water to the Trevi Fountain, had a large central basin and decorations of tritons, dragons and masks, traditional theme for urban water features a the time.

Fontana del Moro Rome at sunset

In 1652, Pope Innocent X Pamphili commissioned significant work to the improvement of Piazza Navona and put Bernini in charge of upgrading the Fountain od the Moor, which happened to be right in front of the palazzo belonging to his family.

Bernini designed additions to the original fountain that include the male figure of a triton, with peculiar facial traits that made him quickly known as ‘the Moor’.

The Fountain as we see it now consists of a large basin, a tall, muscular male figure in the center, depicted while wrestling a dolphin and several smaller tritons all around the basin, blowing waters out of shells and masks, also used as water flowing figures.

Fountain of the Moor, Rome, with the tall triton figure in the center and smaller triton water feature in the foreground

Roman gossips tell us that, originally, a different statue was supposed to take center stage on this fountain and that the statues represented a snail.

Apparently, however, Donna Olimpia Maidalchini, sister in law of the Pope didn’t like.

Since nothing would pass the veto by influential Donna Olimpia, the snail never made it to the fountain and was instead relocated to Villa Pamphili!

According to a different version of events, it was the Pope himself who didn’t like Bernini’s first design.

Outraged by this rejection, Bernini proposed a new design with the male figure we see today but gave him facial featured that recalled those of the statue of Pasquino, nearby.

Pasquino was one of the talking statues of Rome, used to express discontent for Papal actions so this would have been a little ‘revenge’ Bernini took for himself.

While there it no source to prove or disprove this legend, we know that Bernini was well able to hide funny and prickly remarks in his work (see the funny story about the elephant in Piazza della Minerva) so this legend is at least plausible!

Other fountains of Piazza Navona

The fountain of the Moor is one of the three fountains in this important square.

The other two are:

The Fountain of the Neptune – on the other end of Piazza Navona from the Fountain of the Moor, this is another stunning example of Baroque fountains sculpture in Rome

The Fountain of the Four Rivers – masterpiece by Bernini, this is one of the most famous fountains in Rome

If you want to learn more about Bernini, find here >>> our guide to Bernini’s locations in Rome

How to see the Fountain of the Moor

The Fountains of the Moor is in one of Rome’ most beautiful piazzas and one of the most central: Piazza Navona.

Since this is an urban feature, access is possible 24/7 and there is no admission fee.

Please note: bathing in the fountain is strictly prohibited.

You can find a guide to the area, including tips about what to see nearby in our visitor’s guide to Piazza Navona district.

Not sure how to include this attraction in your Rome itinerary? Check our Rome itinerary suggestions below:

Rome in a day: detailed Rome city centre itinerary for first time visitors

Rome in two days A detailed itinerary for two full days in Rome

Rome in three daysRome in four days – day-by-day 3 day Rome itinerary

Rome in five days – complete Rome itinerary with main attractions and less usual sites for visitors with more time in the city

Traveling to Rome with kids? Find our family guide to Rome here.

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