Bronze geese and blue tree, or the most unusual Moscow fountains

May 19

On 30 April, the VDNKh’s unique fountain group was fully launched. The Friendship Among Nations and Stone Flower fountains started functioning after their first restoration in 65 years, 14 Central Alley fountains and the Golden Spike fountain were renovated last year. Following the tradition, Moscow fountains (there are almost 600 of them today) start gushing water on this day.

16 girls and bronze geese

The Friendship Among Nations fountain, designed by the architect Konstantin Topuridze in 1954, has a pool area of 3,500 sq. m. Standing on an oval step granite pedestal in the centre is a sheaf of wheat, technical hemp and sunflowers, surrounded by figures of 16 girls, symbolizing the Soviet Union republics. Interestingly, this composition was originally supposed to decorate the Stone Flower fountain, but later it was decided to make it a base of the Friendship Among Nations fountain located closer to the central pavilion.

The fountain has 784 jets shooting 20 m up thanks to nine powerful pumps. In the evening, the fountain is beautifully illuminated with 350 LED white, red, blue and green lights installed in the bowl.

The Stone Flower, designed by Konstantin Topuridze too, is another fountain that started functioning after reconstruction this year at the VNDKh. The centre of the composition is a bowl shaped like a flower in bloom among gem-stones. The granite plinths of the fountain, decorated with cast iron volutes form the base for the 16 bronze still-lifes bearing gifts from the former Soviet republics. The huge bowl contains small fountains shaped as cast iron sturgeons and bronze geese.

Two types of smalt were used to decorate the fountain: coloured marblits made of opaque glass and gold leaves of different shades. The architect is believed to have been inspired by the Malachite Casket tales by Pavel Bazhov. On a clear sunny day, bright smalt pieces and almost a thousand water jets create an amazing play of light and colours. In the evening, with the fountain backlights on it seems that the very magic flower from the fairy tale about the Mistress of the Copper Mountain comes to life.

The Golden Spike fountain, the VDNKh’s third largest one located in the dam area, started functioning last year after a 30-year break. The 16-meter sculpture is made of reinforced concrete and faced with gold and red smalt of different shades. The jets nozzles are located in the golden grains of the spike in the form of its tendrils. The fountain has 66 jets 30 of which reach a height of 25 meters.

Gift to Muscovites and tribute to the past

The Teatralny fountain in front of the Bolshoi Theatre, a gift to the city’s residents, was installed on the occasion of Moscow’s 850th anniversary. It consists of three small pools with ancient Greek style vases in the middle of the fountain. At dusk, lighting in the fountain appears creating an inimitable romantic atmosphere.

Traditionally, it is here that veterans of the Great Patriotic War gather. The history of this location explains why they have chosen it for their meetings. Until 1987, there was a different fountain outside the theatre, which was faced with Scandinavian marble and granite brought by Nazi invaders to the USSR to put up a monument marking great Germany’s triumph after a blitzkrieg they planned. However, the slabs were used for quite a different purpose… For this reason, the fountain has become veterans' favourite gathering place.

The Bolotny, or Repinsky, fountain also owes its appearance to the Great Patriotic War. It was built in 1948 by captured Germans, and its bowl was cast from German melted down guns. Initially, the fountain had son et lumiere with the backlight in time with the melody sounding from the speakers. Now the fountain has no background music, since the noise from passing cars drowns out the music. But the backlight functions making this classic fountain look even more majestic.

The group of fountains at Poklonnaya Gora, which is the city’s largest group, is also linked to the Great Patriotic War. It consists of 15 bowls, each having 15 vertical water jets. There are 225 water jets that symbolise the number of weeks the war lasted. The central alley, The War Years, is also symbolic as it consists of five terraces by the number of the war years. The fountains are particularly spectacular after dark when lighting is switched on, colouring the water jets bright scarlet that reminds park visitors of the blood spilled for freedom.

Female Bather and Dance Lover

An unusual fountain, or a descending cascade of tumbling water to be more exact, can be found at Gorky Park. It is called A Female Bather. Created in 1937 and designed by architect Alexander Vlasov, it is an original architectural structure, consisting of steps descending down towards the Moskva River, along which water pours down from a pond into a grotto located in the cascade’s breast wall from where it spills over into a small pool.

The sculpture of a female athlete at the top appeared later – in 1952, rendering a flavour of socialist realism to the composition: a young girl, concentrating and getting ready to make a dive.

As visitors enter Tsaritsyno Park, they can observe a fountain featuring son et lumiere, which is installed in the park’s natural pond. The fountain has 915 water jets, which change their width and height in time to whatever music is being played. The illumination consisting of about 4,000 lights that are installed under water also keeps time to the beat of the music. The fountain’s repertoire includes Tchaikovsky’s Flower Waltz and March and two melodies by French composer Paul Mauriat.

Whereas the fountain on Teatralnaya Square was installed ahead of the celebration of Moscow’s 850th anniversary, the Tsaritsyno fountain marked the city’s 860th anniversary.

Dry modernist style and wet classics

Admittedly, one of Moscow’s most unusual fountains was installed in Muzeon Park on the Krymskaya Embankment in 2013. It is a dry fountain, that is, it has no basin. The water jets shoot up straight from the ground, so visitors walking through the fountain can get soaked if they want to.

The fountain is really spectacular. It covers 840 square metres (60 metres by 14 metres) and has 200 water spouts, which alternately bubble gently or shoot up water several metres high; they do this either simultaneously, or haphazardly, or chaotically. Children like this place most of all as they love to run around trying to avoid the water jets.

Whereas in the daytime the fountain is likely to put visitors in a playful mood, during the evening people just feast their eyes on it. Dynamic lighting makes the water in the fountain change colour.

The Pushkinsky fountain is undoubtedly a perfect classical style piece and a favourite meeting place for Muscovites. Built in 1950, the fountain consists of a basin with three bowls, one of which is tall and the other two on its sides are low. The fountain owes its name to its location on Pushkinskaya Square.

Initially, the pumps supplying water to the fountain were installed in the basement of a neighbouring block of flats. However, later, residents’ complaints about the noise and vibration led the authorities to move the pumping plant to premises made for the purpose beneath the fountain.

During the winter, the Pushkinsky fountain is decorated with lights. For example, last winter, it featured an art object, Musical Forest. The entire basin, except the tall bowl in the middle, was covered with a thick cloth and turned into a spacious podium to accommodate trees decorated with thousands of lights emitting diodes, which went on and changed colour keeping time to the rhythm of the music.

Encoded paintings and a fountain with Italian roots

The Inspiration fountain is a must see for those who like unusual things. It was opened in 2006 to mark the 150th anniversary of the Tretyakov Gallery. Granite slabs form a kind of bowl, from which a blue tree grows. It’s made up of three large picture frames, each of which has an encoded famous painting. After the close examination of the stylised images, one can recognise ‘Tzar Ivan IV the Terrible’ by Viktor Vasnetsov, ‘Moscow Food. Bread’ by Ilya Mashkov and ‘A Birch Grove’ by Arkhip Kuindzhi.

The city’s oldest fountain is located in a public garden in front of the Bolshoi Theatre on Revolution (Revolyutsii) Square. Created in the 1820s, it initially served as a public water collection facility. Residents from the neighbouring houses had to queue to fill up their buckets with water from the fountain. Special drinking troves for horses were kept in the lower part of the installation. In all, five fountains with potable water were built in Moscow, of which two fountains have survived to the present day.


In 1835, a decision was taken to decorate the fountain on Revolution Square. Sculptor of Italian descent Ivan (Giovanni) Vitali was commissioned to do the job. He installed four cupids – Renaissance artists’ favourite decorative element – on a base. The cupids support a bowl and symbolise music, poetry, tragedy and comedy.

The fountain’s original name is Petrovsky, but Muscovites started to call it by the sculptor’s surname and it gradually caught on. Today, it is known as the Vitali fountain.

Another fountain that was decorated by Vitali has survived in Moscow but it was moved to another location: earlier, the Nikolsky fountain stood on Lubyanskaya Square but in 1936 it was moved to the courtyard of Aleksandrinsky Palace (today it accommodates the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences) on Leninsky Prospekt.

Biblical motifs and ancient Greek myths

In 2002, Brussels presented Moscow with the ‘Abduction of Europe’ sculpture by modern Belgian avant-gardist Olivier Strebelle. The interweaving of curved tubes represents powerful horns of a bull to which Zeus turned to steal the beauty Europe to whom he was attracted. The monument was installed on Europe Square with a wonderful fountain around it designed by architect Yuri Platonov. The fountain has five granite bowls located in each other with upward water jets that follow the sculpture motifs and are illuminated by four thousand multi-coloured lights. It turns out very beautiful, which is recognized even by those who do not know the romantic story from an ancient myth.

The Adam and Eve under a Tree in the Garden of Eden fountain was installed next to the entrance to the Novokuznetskaya metro station in 2007 on the occasion of Moscow’s 860th anniversary. The authorities considered different projects, there was even a fountain named after the Slavic goddess Bereginya, but in the end the choice was made in favour of the Bible.

The centre of the fountain is formed by a sculptural group from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, under which Adam and Eve sit on the Serpent Tempter. The fountain has several jet groups: water hits the base of the sculpture, pours from the tree, water cascades frame the podium of the composition, and around the perimeter the fountain is surrounded by a whole number of small foam jets. Small foam fountains are installed in four paradise apples placed in the corners. To make all this function in the right mode, the fountain has eight pumps of different capacities, each of which performs its own function. Muscovites make appointments here and have a rest escaping the heat in the shade of trees, and tourists like to have pictures taken on the fountain steps.


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