The Most Glorious Fountains In The World Appear To Defy Physics
These aren’t your average park fountains or cute garden water features: these water fountains go big and then recirculate and go big again. They’re art, they’re technological innovations, and they are pure spectacle. But just a warning: as you read on, you may get thirsty.
1. The Hill Giant at Crystal Worlds in Wattens, Austria
In Wattens, Austria a hill giant spews water of his mouth like the rainbow mouth Snapchat filter. Its eyes stare eerily above your head, blank-faced and looming. But the giant is hiding something: the “Chambers of Wonder.” It’s an exhibition in Crystal Worlds, a theme park/museum created by Swarovski, the crystal company.
Under the giant hill are 17 themed rooms covered in crystal art, like a dwarf’s hideout. The whole place is akin to a fantasy fairy world. Even the giant has crystals adorning its head. Plus, surrounding the giant and his treasure are gardens full of sculptures, pools, and mazes.
2. Water Boat Fountain in Valencia, Spain
This gorgeous fountain appears to be a boat sailing into the sunset, only the boat is made of water and it’s stuck in a little pond. Fountains may be beautiful to look at, but their watery spectacle may leave some people wondering: is this a huge waste of water?
Well, it turns out that in most water features the fountain water recirculates and is recycled back into the fountain. The water all stays in the system, only escaping via evaporation and splashing. Often, people shut down fountains on windy days to keep from losing excessive water. So you can admire them without feeling guilty.
3. La Joute in Montréal, Canada
The fountain sculpture La Joute (The Joust) was first built for the 1976 summer Olympic Games. The surrounding animals and mythical creatures are cast in bronze, with a ring of fire encircling the centerpiece. In summer evenings, the fountain puts on a show: light and mist cast it in a mysterious display and then the flames are dramatically lit.
Artist Jean-Paul Riopelle created this sculpture, which was the only fountain sculpture he ever made. The fire ring is reminiscent of the angel traps in “Supernatural.” You can just imagine an ancient evil being trapped in the center of the fountain.
4. The Magic Tap at Aqualand in El Puerto de Santa María, Spain
This Magic Tap in Spain is one of a few of these fountain sculptures around the world. At first, it baffles viewers: where is the water coming from? Of course, the water isn’t miraculously appearing out of nowhere. It’s an illusion. There’s a transparent tube running up the stream, but the gushing water hides it.
There are a few other magic tap sculptures in Spain, as well as in Belgium, the UK, Switzerland, the USA, and Canada. Some of these are permanent and some were temporary art installations. So did learning how the fountain works ruin it for you or does it still retain its air of magic?
5. The Fountains of Bellagio in Las Vegas, Nevada
Several times a day the Fountains of Bellagio shoot into the sky, dancing rhythmically. The show plays to opera, classical music, pop, and Broadway tunes, with differing choreography for each song. A light show accompanies the spectacle and a few weeks ago they even did a Game of Thrones-themed display.
The fountain show is operated in part by 200 robots called “oarsmen.” These robots were designed specifically for this project; they aren’t connected to each other and each act alone to draw water from the pool and shoot it into the air. 30 diver engineers maintain the oarsmen, each with a custom dive suit made of Kevlar. There are also several hundred “shooters” of various sizes that blast water high above the pool.
6. El Alamein fountain in Sydney, Australia
This beautiful fountain is reminiscent of a dandelion puff, which perhaps makes you want to blow on it to make a wish. It’s actually a war memorial fountain for Australian soldiers who fought in Egypt during World War II. The 9th Division participated in two battles that helped turn the tide to victory for the Allies.
El Alamein’s designer was a World War II veteran, too, so it has double significance with regards to World War II. The water saucers that make up the dandelion puff are continuously changing in the wind from convex to concave (aka bending outwards to bending inwards) and back again.
7. The Fountain of Wealth in Singapore
The Fountain of Wealth sure has an appropriate name as its located in Singapore’s Suntec City, which is full of things to spend your wealth on: shopping, dining, and entertainment. Sitting at the center of five blocks, this fountain is meant to symbolize a gold ring in the palm of a hand.
The Suntec city designers used feng shui to design the shopping center, so the hand and ring are meant to make harmony and spread good fortune to those working in the center. In Chinese culture, water symbolizes good fortune and wealth. In 1998, the fountain was listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the World’s Largest Fountain.
8. The Mustangs of Las Colinas in Irving, Texas
The Mustangs of Las Colinas charge across the water feature in this Texan plaza. They were an eight-year project by artist Robert Glen, modeled after mustangs the Spanish brought to the United States in the 16th century. Mustangs aren’t wild horses but the feral descendants of these escaped domestic horses. However, the mustangs alive today have other horse breeds in their ancestry from crossbreeding.
Horses actually originated in North America four million years ago. They ran their way to Eurasia, then Africa, becoming different species. Meanwhile, the prehistoric North American horses went extinct about 12,000 years ago. The Tarpan was a truly wild horse in Europe, but it went extinct in the early 1900s.
9. The Rain Vortex at Changi Airport in Singapore
Changi Airport in Singapore was already known as the “best airport in the world” before it added this over the top, 10-story section called Jewel. It has stunning gardens, shops, dining, a hotel, an IMAX theater, and the world’s tallest indoor waterfall (all pre-security). In June, they’re adding mazes, a glass-bottomed bridge, and other attractions.
The same company that designed the Fountains of Bellagio made the Rain Vortex, which puts on a light show each night. The Jewel officially opened very recently on April 17, 2019. But the question is, when are you supposed to enjoy this pre-security spectacle? Is everyone getting to the airport like eight hours early?
10. The Mosaïcultures Internationales de Montréal exhibition in Canada
Mosaiculture is the art of making garden sculptures, which Mosaïcultures Internationales does to a truly grand scale. They put on competitions for horticulturists to show off their mosaiculture skills and exhibitions for people to view the larger-than-life creations.
Every few years, Mosaïcultures Internationales puts on its huge competition. In 2013, it was in Montreal and that’s where this huge water feature appeared. However, many of the sculptures were removed. So how do they pull off these massive topiary-like sculptures? Well, they start with a steel base and then add thousands of plants to it. The modern art form is inspired by Renaissance gardens.
11. The Oval Fountain at the Villa d’Este in Tivoli, Italy
This gorgeous fountain sits on the grounds of Italy’s Villa d’Este in Tivoli, near Rome. The Villa is a five-star luxury hotel and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built in 1568 as a summer residence, the magnificent building and grounds were turned into a hotel in 1873.
The grounds of Villa d’Este are covered in fountains. It literally has a promenade (a paved walkway) lined with 100 fountains. The three streams feeding the Oval Fountain (Fontana dell’Ovato) represent the three rivers near the Villa: the Aniene, Erculaneo, and the Albuneo. Once upon a time, the river Aniene flowed into the Oval Fountain via a canal.
12. The Waterfall at The Dubai Mall in Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Intriguing and huge, The Waterfall is the centerpiece of the Dubai Mall. Its diving sculptures were crafted out of fiberglass, which is made up of thin strings of glass. The threads can be poured out in a liquid form, which allows a sculpture made of the stuff to have very fine details.
Fiberglass is used in large sculptures because it is very strong but lightweight; thus it can be moved easily and shipped cheaply. The Waterfall water feature has been around for ten years now. Last year it celebrated the anticipated Dead Pool movie when one of the divers was painted like the anti-hero.
13. Charybdis at Seaham Hall Hotel in Sunderland, England
The water feature Charybdis is named after a mythical siren (of the same name) that Zeus turned into a whirlpool. Artist William Pye created this fountain, which sits in front of the Seaham Hall Hotel. Truthfully, Pye is part engineer, part artist as he experiments with water manipulation to come up with commissioned pieces.
The water level in Charybdis rises and drops throughout the day. Once the water reaches the top of the container, water keeps pumping into the feature and it flows out and down the sides. This creates the illusion of an uncontained column of water. The water running down the sides slips into a slot at the base and then back into the fountain.
14. The Grand Cascade of the Hercules Monument in Kassel, Germany
Domineering and intimidating, the Hercules Monument in Germany stands tall at the top of a massive Grand Cascade of water. At the base of the rushing water is the Grand Fountain, which shoots water 164 feet into the air. Standing on top of the monumental architecture is a Hercules statue (Herkules in German).
The Hercules Monument was built in the 1700s and it stands high on a hill looking over the town of Kassel. There are no pumps pushing the water; it flows down with gravity. Rainwater collects in the water feature to make a huge spectacle. While some of the pipes have been replaced, some are the same 300-year-old pieces originally put in.
15. Crown Fountain in Chicago, Illinois
At first glance, Chicago’s Crown Fountain is certainly an odd sight. Who would want to be spit on by a giant face? It was actually designed to be a modern gargoyle, which spit water in plenty of other fountains. The fountain is made of two towers facing each other, each composed of glass bricks and screens with water streaming down its outside.
The faces on the towers move and change; when they pucker their lips, water spews out. The water forms a reflecting pool, which children love to splash around in, and then drains to a collecting pool underground. After that, it recirculates up through the tower and out. When it’s windy, the water is turned off to conserve it.
16. The King Fahd Fountain in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Here’s the big boy of fountains: King Fahd’s Fountain in Jeddah is the tallest in the world, reaching about 1,024 feet into the air. It’s taller than the Eiffel Tower. The second highest, the Gateway Geyser in the US, only reaches 630 feet high.
King Fahd’s Fountain was finished in 1985 and shoots water vertically at a speed of about 233 miles an hour. The water spectacle actually uses filtered seawater, so the pumps are treated annually to prevent marine life from growing in them. The spotlights illuminating the fountain had to be specifically designed to withstand the literal tons of water falling on them.
17. The Big Giving in London, England
A little less majesty and a little more debauchery went into the making of this fountain. It was a temporary art installation by artist Klaus Weber in London. The molten volcanic rock figures spew water out of their bodily orifices: spitting, vomiting, and urinating.
As to why this is called “The Big Giving,” that remains unclear. All this sculpture is giving us is a need to take a shower. If anything, these figures look like they’re straight out of a Doctor Who episode, which is quite appropriate for London. And while we love to see fountains spew water about beautifully, maybe people should keep the fluids to themselves.
18. The Tunnel of Surprises of the Magic Water Circuit in Lima, Peru
Begging the question of what surprises await you in this tunnel, this water feature is rather creepy and cinematic. But the 114-foot-long Tunnel of Surprises is only one fountain in a park full of them. It’s called the Magic Water Circuit and as the world’s largest water fountain complex in a public park, it was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Besides the Tunnel of Surprises, the park also has the Maze of the Dream which challenges you to find your way to the center without getting too wet (like that impossible mission in Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild). Fantasia Fountain does a choreographed show complete with lasers and music each night. Plus the park’s entrance fee is a cheap $1.50.
19. The Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara Fountain of Ancient Siam in Thailand
A spectacular sight, this Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara Fountain represents an enlightened being who is destined to become a buddha. Avalokiteshvara means “Lord who looks down with compassion,” which, combined with this statue’s dragons, makes the fountain sculpture reminiscent of Daenerys Targaryen, before the whole Mad Queen thing.
The fountain’s home is Ancient Siam, an outdoor museum in Thailand. Ancient Siam aims to show off Thai architecture and history with its replicas of important Thai buildings, some of which are no longer standing. It’s a walk through the country’s history in a park that is literally shaped like Thailand.
20. The water clock of Osaka Station City in Osaka, Japan
Perhaps not the most convenient clock, as it takes a full minute to show you the time again, but the Osaka station waterfall clock certainly looks neat. The time falls three times and then the water displays 2D pictures and the name of the building.
Historically, people have used water to tell time, just not in a printer that illuminates the droplets in careful patterns. A clepsydra is a water clock that often consisted of a small floating vessel filling with water. They were made in varying forms, but some date all the way back to 14th century BC Egypt.
21. The Pineapple Fountain of the Charleston Waterfront Park in Charleston, South Carolina
A pineapple may seem like an odd choice for a fountain, but they symbolize hospitality all over Charleston. And if you were wondering, yes, you can splash around in the pineapple’s bountiful water. But it probably doesn’t taste like fruit infused water.
Charleston has plenty of beautiful fountains. In fact, the Waterfront Park is home not only to the Pineapple Fountain, but also the creatively named Fountain at Waterfront Park. The Pineapple Fountain was built in 1990 after Hurricane Hugo swept through the city. It is stunning against a summer sunset also looks pretty badass when frozen.
22. The Unisphere of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens, New York
Standing tall in New York, the Unisphere was built for the 1964 World’s Fair as a monument to the space age. The thin rings orbiting it represent Yuri Gagarin in the Vostok spacecraft, John Glenn in Friendship 7, and the Telstar satellite, the first three human-made things to orbit Earth (of course, now space is littered with satellites circling our planet).
The whole structure weighs 450 tons and is ringed by geysers of water. This sculpture wasn’t the only big thing at the World’s Fair — Disneyland’s “It’s a Small World” was first made for the fair. But staring at this huge globe, you can’t help but think about the big dreams of NASA’s history and look forward to our space travel today.
23. The Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy
If there were celebrities among fountains, Rome’s Trevi Fountain would be the George Clooney. It took 30 years to make and was finished in 1762, sadly after its designer died. The thing is an enormous 85 feet tall and 160 feet wide. The figure in the middle is the titan Oceanus on a chariot pulled by sea horses.
Once upon a time, the water in the fountain was drinkable and delectable, taken to the Vatican each week. Now, it’s recirculated and not good for drinking. Supposedly, if you throw coins into the fountain, you’ll return to Rome. But even if that isn’t the case, you’ll rest easy knowing the coins are regularly collected and donated to charity.
24. The Banpodaegyo Bridge Moonlight Rainbow Fountain in Seoul, South Korea
The Banpo Bridge is another Guinness World Record holder as the world’s longest bridge fountain in the world. Its 380 water jets can dance to music and light up in a rainbow of colors. The fountain is on from April to October, doing its shows throughout the day.
The fountains pump water from the Han River below through their pipes and out again in a colorful display. If you want to watch the show, a good viewing spot is the nearby Banpo Hangang Park. But if you look too closely, the lengthy fountain looks vaguely like a mythical rainbow centipede.
25. The Ira Keller Fountain in Portland, Oregon
Portland is home to these huge man-made waterfalls that were completed in 1970. Originally called the Forecourt Fountain, it was renamed eight years later after Ira C. Keller, who’d been chairman of the Portland Development Commission.
However, while most of Portland’s fountains recycle their water, their 52 iconic “Benson Bubblers” (drinking fountains) rarely stop running and waste nearly 40 swimming pools worth of water each year. They’re constantly on, but since they are for drinking and not viewing, they don’t recirculate their water.