Fontana Pretoria is a spectacular fountain located in the heart of the historic centre of Palermo, in the square with the same name, Piazza Pretoria. The fountain is decorated with sculptures of the Twelve Olympians and other mythological and allegorical figures.
The fountain was built in 1554, in Florence, by Francesco Camilliani, for the garden of Don Luigi Alvarez de Toledo. In 1573, driven by his debts and about to move to Naples, Don Luigi sold the fountain to the Palermo Senate.
The fountain arrived in Palermo on May 26, 1574, disassembled in 644 pieces, with some sculptures being damaged during transport or retained by the previous owner. Therefore, some adaptations were necessary and some pieces were added.
The recomposition of the fountain was made by Camillo Camilliani, son of Francesco, with the help of Michelangelo Naccherino, and Fontana Pretoria was finished in 1581.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, due to the nudity of statues, the square was popularly known as Piazza della Vergogna (Square of Shame).
In November 1998, a restoration work was undertaken, which lasted until November 2003. In December of the same year, the fountain was reopened.
The fountain has a central basin, surrounded by four bridges and a balustrade enclosure. The first level of the fountain is bordered externally by a circular staircase and by the balustrade interrupted by four gates. The external access gates have pairs of sculptures placed on pedestals.
The first circular section has a large pedestrian pavement and the second section is the circular basin which collects the water.
There are six niches in the outer wall of each circular sector of the second level, in which are placed heads of animals or mythological monsters, for a total of 24 figures.
HOW TO GET THERE
To discover the historic centre of the city, you can use the free shuttle bus Arancione (Orange Bus), that connects Piazza Indipendenza with Porta Felice. The closest station is Piazza Pretoria, about 80 meters away from the fountain.