Bringing water to Rome was always of great importance in the ancient city – if you could achieve a steady supply of clean and healthy water as Pope Sixtus V did with the Acqua Felice then you were truly considered a success. You could see this success specifically commemorated in fountains all across the city with carvings of emblems and coats of arms.
The fountain of Fontana Paola came into being because Pope Paul V wished to emulate the success of his predecessors and to create a new source of water – the Acqua Paola. The fountain here would be set on the imposing setting of the Janiculum in Rome and would celebrate his success in finding and diverting a new source of water. It’s difficult to think of a more fitting monument to celebrate this in than a fountain, after all.
Pope Paul V commissioned two of the Fontanas – Giovanni and Carlo – to construct a fountain of travertine on the spot he had picked. Plans for the outdoor fountain included six columns and other parts of masonry that were taken from the ruins of the Temple of Minerva. The Fontana Paolo fountain was an extremely ambitious project – the designers had to plan and build for five arches (three big and two small) with cascades that flowed into a vast sunken basin for the large arches and into smaller receptacles for the smaller ones.