The word fountain comes from the Latin word, fontis.
Fountains have been around for almost as long as the Latin language, and were built using gravity as a means to force water into the air or to fall into cascades and were generally set onto ornate statues or as decorative features.
In these early days fountains were used primarily as a source of drinking water or for bathing and tended to be housed inside a building rather than outside.
From the beginning of the 20th century fountains became larger and more ornate with mechanical aids to get them to drive water into elaborate jets.
Todays fountains are generally computer driven and eco friendly using all manner of green implementation to obtain elaborate water jets coupled with music and lightshows.
There is something magical and alluring about the sight and sound of running water that has always soothed the human psyche, which is probably why they have remained a permanent feature of our lives for so long and why there are so many fountain landmarks, both big and small around the world today.
Below is a list of some of the more impressive fountains that can be seen around the world.
JET d'EAU, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND.
For 19 years this 459 foot ( 140m) high jet of water situated on Lake Geneva, Switzerland was the world's largest fountain.
Built in 1951 the fountain that sends a jet of water shooting into the air at 124 miles an hour, is situated where the mighty River Rhone flows into Lake Geneva, Switzerland's largest lake at 223.95 sq miles ( 580,03 sq km).
THE KING FAHD FOUNTAIN, JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA.
Built between 1980 and 1983 but not operational until 1985, the King Fahd Fountain situated on the Red Sea in Saudia Arabia's second largest city of Jeddah, sends a jet of water 853 feet into the air at a speed of 233 miles an hour making it the world's largest fountain to date.
THE BELLAGIO DANCING FOUNTAIN, LAS VEGAS, USA.
Built in 1980 and situated in the grounds of the Bellagio Hotel in America's fun city of Las Vegas, the dancing fountain is made up of 1,200 water jets that can send water soaring over 24 storeys high which are illuminated by 5,000 lights, where it is set to music and used for water and light shows on a man made lake of over 9 acres.
THE GRAND CASCADE, ST PETERSBURG, RUSSIA.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site situated at the Peterhof Palace, St Petersburg in Russia, was built in 1709 and is just one of many features in this site of gardens and palacial buildings, built by Jean - Baptiste Alexander for Peter the Great.
THE FOUNTAIN, TRAFALGAR SQUARE, LONDON, UK.
Built to complement Nelson's Column in London's Trafalgar Square, the fountain was first built in 1845, with restoration in the 1930's by architect Sir Edwin Lutyens.
The iconic fountain is symbolic with the British people as being the main venue for revellers on the evening of New Years Eve.
In 2009, a new and improved water pump and new lighting was fitted into the fountain in readiness for Britian's Olympic Games visitors in 2012.
WATER FEATURE, FORT WORTH, TEXAS, USA.
Set amongst the stunning site of the Fort Worth Gardens this fountain feature was designed by architect Philip Johnson and built in 1976.
The feature is 38 foot high at it's highest point and sends water cascading over an array of rocks and boulders that people can walk through.
INTERNATIONAL FOUNTAIN, SEATTLE, WASHINGTON STATE, USA.
Built in 1961 as part of the Seattle World's Fair, and situated at the Seattle Centre on Harrison Street, the fountain received a refurbishment in 1995.
The fountain is 10 foot tall by 27 foot wide with 137 nozzles that shoot water 120 feet into the air and is set to music.
This type of fountain is known as a splash fountain, designed for people to walk through in order to cool down during hot weather.
THE HILL GIANT ,WATTENS, AUSTRIA.
This most unusual fountain feature is situated at the entrance to the world famous Swarovski Crystal Factory at Wattens in Austria and was created by artist Andre Heller in 1983.
Known as the Hill Giant the fountain is part of the World Of Crystals exhibition that also features cavern trails and a crystal shop all set in the beautiful Alpine scenery of this Tyrolean town.
THE GRIFO MAGICO, CADIZ, SPAIN.
My personal favourite is this impressive looking tap that looks like it is suspended in mid air. It is situated at the Aqualand, theme park in the Moorish town of Bahia de Cadiz in southern Spain.
Known as the Magic Tap, of course there is no magic, just high - tec, which features a rigid hose hidden in the gushing, foaming water, that not only holds the tap aloft, but forces water up and out from the pool below.
Visit the website of the world's largest manufacturer of fountains - www.wetdesign.com/
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© D.B.Bellamy.October, 2010.
Images courtesy of wikimedia commons, with special thanks to emijrp, dillif, Andreas Praefcke and Michael Slonecker.