The First Fountain of Budapest

The still impressive first fountain of the capital city is thanks to Pest First Home Savings Bank. Originally it was planned to be raised in  Ferenciek tere (a downtown square at the foot of Elizabeth Bridge) but finally, the fountain, named Danubius Well was inaugurated in Kálvin tér (also a downtown square) in 1883.

Institutionalised water supply service on the territory of Pest-Buda was started with the installation of the temporary water works of Pest in 1868, and that is how the history of Capital Waterworks has begun. The construction of the water supply system made possible the watering of the dusty streets and squares of the capital city and without it the first fountain of Budapest could not have come into being. The Savings Bank had decided to raise a fountain, phrased those days as “a biggish water works,” to enrich the capital city even before the water supply system was established.

Danubius Well in its original place in 1896

Source: Budapestcity.org

 

 

Miklós Ybl was entrusted with the design and implementation and Leó Feszler created the sculptures. The masterpiece was carved from stone brought from Budakalász (a small town near Budapest), the stone of the bigger one of the two plate pools of the well weighed a hundred tons. A special cart had to be built to bring it from the Budakalász quarry to Pest. Some were afraid that Margaret Bridge would collapse under its weight. Finally, the cart overcame all difficulties and arrived to the square in triumph, all ribboned up.

Following its inauguration, the well had become a popular meeting point for the next decades; its artfully carved stone figures were admired by many. These distinctive statues symbolise the main rivers of the country, i.e. Danube, Tisza, Drava and Sava.

The well was damaged during World War II and it was pulled down. When the new traffic system and image of the square was formed, the well was not intended to be put back into its original place. Its broken statues were re-carved in Dezső Győry’s workshop and they were placed in its present day location, in Erzsébet Square in 1959.

Source: National Environmental Institute, Hungarian Environmental and Water Museum