Three Heads on a Fountain
Three heads on a fountain, Plaça Sant Just, Gothic Quarter, Barcelona,
Barcelona’s Fiveller Fountain is said to date from 1367, although it was reconstructed in the 19th century. Located on tiny Plaça Sant Just in the Gothic Quarter, the fountain’s three medieval faces pucker their lips waiting for water that no long spurts from their mouths. Today, water is supplied by the taps added later. Fiveller Fountain is either the oldest or the second oldest municipal water fountain in Barcelona. It is said both to be built with funds given by Joan Fiveller and to honor Joan Fiveller, a powerful 15th-century Barcelona statesman and politician. Legend has it that Fiveller stumbled on a water source while hunting in the forests of the Collserola and piped the water to the city, at a time when it had serious problems with its water supply. Since Fiveller would have been very young or not yet born in 1367 (his year of birth is not established but he died in 1434), it makes more sense that the fountain was named for him after it was constructed or during a later reconstruction. He was active in municipal and royal government positions from 1406-1427. Fiveller’s Wikipedia biography (translated from Spanish) says Fillever discovered the water source in 1427, not 1367. He and his family had a palace and a chapel in the Plaça Sant Just.
Looking for information on the Fiveller Fountain I ran into a common problem. Too many internet sites (and published sources shown on the internet) repeat, almost word for word, the same information about a place, person, or building without bothering to look behind the sources. Hence, the question: how could a fountain have been paid for by a person or named after a person may not have been born at the time it was first built? Granted, the Fiveller Fountain origins story may be such a common legend in Barcelona and repeated so often it has become fact.
History, and its iterations, is fascinating.
From the internet: Joan Fiveller (Barcelona XIV century – c. 1434) was director (one of five men who ruled the town of Barcelona) from 1406 to 1427 and chief minister from 1418 to 1419 and from 1427 to 1428.
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