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Athena Fountain, Vienna Flora Fountain, Mumbai, India
Danubius Fountain, Budapest, Hungary - Fantastic Fountains
605    Dibyendu Banerjee    04/02/2023

Designed by the highly acclaimed architect Miklós Ybl and carved by Leo Feszler, the magnificent Danubius Fountain, one of the oldest ornamental fountains in Budapest, depicting the allegorical figures of the four great rivers of the Carpathian Basin, was originally erected on Kálvin tér or Kálvin Square, a major square and intersection in the city centre of Budapest, the Capital City of Hungary in 1883.

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But after World War II, the damaged fountain was removed from its original location and following a complete renovation and re-carving of the statues damaged in the siege, it was reinstalled in 1959 on Erzsébet Square, named after Elisabeth Amalie Eugenie of Bavaria, the Empress of the Austro-Hungarian monarch, Franz Josef.

danubius fountain
The allegorical figure of the Danube at the top

However, there is a ridiculous story behind the creation of the fountain. In the beginning, the First National Savings Bank of Pest, known as Pesti Hazai Első Takarékpénztár, offered the city authority to erect a new fountain in the city of Pest in 1869. However, there was a hidden reason behind the offer. It is said that the directors of the bank offered to build the fountain because they had a dispute with the city of Pest, as the authority decided to demolish one of their buildings, which occupied public space. But when the city of Pest decided not to demolish the bank's property, the bank became reluctant in the matter and after delaying for a long time, ultimately abandoned the idea of the installation of the fountain.

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In retaliation, the city authority announced to construct the first public restroom of the country in front of the seat of the bank and immediately after the announcement, the bank took up the project and the Danubius Fountain was erected without any further delay.

danubius fountain
Száva, looking over the square
danubius fountain
Tisza, holding a net in her lap

The three tiered Danubius Fountain, located in the Erzsebet Square, very near the huge Budapest Eye Ferris Wheel, is decorated with the allegorical figures of the four great rivers of Hungary, the Danube, Tisza, holding a net in her lap, Dráva and Száva. While the male figure, standing proudly at the top represents the Danube, the three beautiful female figures sitting around him at the base of the fountain signify the three other important rivers in Hungary, the tributaries of the Danube, as mentioned above.

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With the erection of the picturesque fountain in Kálvin Square, it became a popular meeting place for the locals, especially the lovers, until it was severely damaged in WWII and ultimately pulled down for reinstallation, following the re-carving of the statues damaged in the siege.

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Drava, with shells and snails in her lap

In 2002, the Danubius Fountain had undergone a comprehensive renovation, which became necessary due to the harshness of weather, vandalism and faults of its erection in 1959. During the process of renovation, the weatherworn stones were cleaned of limestone and dirt with a sandblasting technique and a special chemical process, revealing the original detailed patterning of the stonework hidden under the dirt, the missing parts were replaced and even the worn gilding was also replaced. The foot of Száva, one of the most beautiful female figures of the fountain, which was broken off the statue by the vandals in 2014, was re-carved, along with the toe of another statue. Apart from that, the cracked watertight layer of the well was completely replaced and the gaps between the stones of the lower water basin were filled in with a special mortar, restoring its original uniform, smooth surface. The two plaques on opposite sides of the well were re-gilded, one bearing the names of the original creators, architect Miklós Ybl and sculptor Leó Feszle and the other exhibiting the name of a Hungarian sculptor, Dezső Győri, who carried out the post-war restoration. Today, after the overall renovation, the Danubius Fountain continues to shine again in its former glory, while sleeping through the winter.

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Athena Fountain, Vienna Flora Fountain, Mumbai, India
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Author Details
Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.
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