STERN, Raffaele
(b. 1774, Roma, d. 1820, Roma)

Fontana dei Dioscuri

Piazza del Quirinale, Rome

Raffaele Stern built a new Fontana dei Dioscuri in 1818 for Pope Pius VII supporting an ancient Roman granite seashell (found in the 16th century) on top of a large basin.

The fountain and the obelisk with the prancing statues of Castor and Pollux stand in splendour in the Piazza del Quirinale.

Castor and Pollux were excellent horsemen and two large statutes of them in their prancing horses adorn the square. These statues are over 5.5 metres high and are copies of the Greek originals of 5th century B.C. They were known as the horse tamers. These statues originally stood in front of the Baths of Constantine. In 1588 Pope Sixtus V had them restored and placed them in Piazza del Quirinale.

The obelisk, which is placed between them, was brought here in 1786. It is one in a pair of obelisks. The other one stands at the Piazza dell'Esquilino. It was unearthed from the ruins of the Mausoleum of Augustus in 1781. It is made of red granite. There is no inscription on this obelisk hence it may be a Roman copy. However some historians assume that it was transported from Egypt probably in the late first century.

In 1818 the composition was completed by the addition of the fountain, the fountain of the Dioscuri. It is a beautiful fountain, which has a massive granite basin. It was once a cattle trough in the Forum. The combination of these monuments is truly unique.