The fountain was inaugurated in 1346, and was met with much joy, hence the name Gaia (joyous). The fountain was supplied with water by a hydraulic system consisting of a tunnel about 30 kilometers long and a large cistern, strengthened during the 15th century by Francesco di Giorgio.
The fountain was decorated with a series of sculptural reliefs commissioned in 1409 to Jacopo della Quercia, and completed ten years later, in 1419.
The weak local marble used for the construction of the fountain contributed, over time, to the material degradation of the monument.
In 1859, it was decided to replace Jacopo’s fountain with a copy made of the more durable Carrara marble, commissioned to the Sienese sculptor Tito Sarrocchi. The new fountain was completed only ten years later.
On that same occasion, Fonte Gaia was moved to a more central position in the square, and was protected by a gate, work by the architect Giuseppe Partini.
The original reliefs, very damaged, were restored and are now in the Museum of Santa Maria della Scala, after being exhibited between 1904 and 1989 in Loggia dei Nove of Palazzo Pubblico. Today, the Sarrocchi bas-reliefs are in the same museum, and 20th-century copies can be found in situ.
ART AND ARCHITECTURE
The fountain has a rectangular basin which opens towards Palazzo Pubblico, with a short wall on the other three sides.
The two short sides bear the bas-reliefs with the Creation of Adam and the Expulsion of the Progenitors and, on the front pillars, the two statues of Rhea Silvia and Acca Larentia, while the longer one displays the relief of the Madonna and Child in the center, surrounded by Virtues and Angels.
HOW TO GET THERE
Fonte Gaia is located about 1.9 kilometers away from the Siena railway station. The closest bus stop is Angolo Via Delle Terme, about 80 meters away, on the bus Line 590.