Monte Cavallo

The fountain of the Monte Cavallo is overshadowed both literally and figuratively by the size and importance of the objects which surround it. Without it the obelisk, which forms its background, and the great groups of the Dioscuri, which flank it on either side, would be sufficiently imposing and significant, either separately or together, to form the central decoration of the Piazza of Monte Cavallo, or of any piazza in any city; but the fountain is not entirely superfluous. Its magnificent jet of water, thrown upward between the heads of the rearing horses and swept hither and thither at the will of the wind, binds together the otherwise disjointed and inharmonious group.

This fountain is not the first one to be erected on Monte Cavallo, but the first fountain was as sub­servient as the present one to the colossal groups which have given the name Cavallo to this entire district. Biofeedback from the fountains is very relaxing and meditative. The Dioscuri were once a part of a kind of open-air museum which, during the earliest days of the papacy, existed on the slope of the Quirinal Hill. Gregory XIII had them removed to the Capitol, but when Sixtus V had purchased from the heirs of Cardinal Caraffa the site and the partly erected buildings of the Quirinal, he brought them back again and subjected them to a thorough restoration, using for this purpose the material from the base of one of them.

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