Why the Trevi Fountain is Such a Popular Tourist Attraction

Why the Trevi Fountain is Such a Popular Tourist Attraction

Rome is full of incredible examples of craftsmanship and works of art. From structures dating back to antiquity or sculptures from the great Renaissance era artists: there are many reasons why huge numbers of tourists visit Rome each year.

One of the most popular tourist attractions in Rome is a Baroque-era fountain in the Trevi district of the Eternal City. Why? The extravagant fountain is probably the most beautiful fountain in the world.

Three Ways & Trivia

There are a number of meanings behind the name of the fountain. The Trevi fountain is located on the Piazza dei Cruciferi at the junction of three roads, ‘tre vie’.

Also note that one of the sculptures on the fountain is of the Roman goddess ‘Trivia’. A virgin who was thought to watch over the Roman streets, helped by the fact that she had three heads.

Design & Makeup

You may be forgiven for thinking that Bernini designed the Trevi fountain. Although Bernini is known for designing a number of impressive fountains around Rome, he did not design the Trevi fountain.

The Trevi fountain was designed by Nicola Salvi, who won the contract in a somewhat fortuitous way. Salvi’s design actually came second in a competition to decide who would design the fountain. On hearing the result, the outcry from the public in Rome over the fact that the winner, Alessandro Galilei, was a Florentine with no connections to Rome was enough to see Salvi chosen as the lead designer.

Salvi envisioned a waterfall cascading from the facade of a palazzo. Work began on the fountain in 1732. Unfortunately Salvi would never see his vision in its final form as he died in 1751 with the works only half-finished. The work was taken on by Giuseppe Pannini who oversaw the completion of the fountain and its inauguration by Pope Clement XIII in 1762.

The Trevi Fountain is made almost entirely of travertine stone, the same stone used in the construction of the Colosseum, which is mined 20 miles from Rome in Tivoli.


Palazzo Poli forms the backdrop for the Trevi Fountain and the facade evokes the theme of The Taming of the Waters. Commanding the centre of the fountain is the Greek sea god, Oceanus. Beneath Oceanus are two Tritons, or mermen, which are intended to represent rough and calm seas. The sculptures beside Oceanus are of Agrippa and Virgo.

Although beautiful to visit during the day, the Trevi fountain is particularly beautiful at night as the sculptures are tastefully lit, plus thanks to there being less crowds, the whole place feels decidedly more tranquil.

Throw a Coin

It is customary for visitors to the Trevi fountain to throw a coin into the water. The act originated in Ancient Rome as it was thought that an offering thrown into a fountain, lake or other body of water would ensure a safe onward journey and the chance to return to Rome.

On average, €3,000 are thrown into the Trevi fountain per day! Caritas, a charity, collects the coins and uses the proceeds to help the homeless and less fortunate in and around Rome.

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