Fontana del Pantheon
February 21, 2012
In the center of the piazza della Rotonda is a fountain, the Fontana del Pantheon, surmounted by a Egyptian obelisk. The fountain was constructed by Giacomo Della Porta under Pope Gregory XIII in 1575, and the obelisk was added to it in 1711 under Pope Clement XI.
In 1711 the fountain was given its current appearance when Pope Clement XI had the Late Baroque sculptor Filippo Barigioni top it with a 20-foot red marble Egyptian obelisk. The obelisk, originally constructed by Pharaoh Ramses II for the Temple of Ra in Heliopolis, had been brought to Rome in ancient times where it was reused in the Iseum Campense, a shrine to the Egyptian god Isis that stood to the southeast of the Pantheon. It was rediscovered in 1374 underneath the apse of the nearby Basilica of Santa Maria sopra Minerva. In the mid-1400s the obelisk had been erected in the small Piazza di San Macuto some 200 meters east of the Pantheon, where it remained until its 1711 move to the Piazza della Rotonda. It is still called the Obelisco Macutèo after its previous location.