The role of fountains in the urban space of Habsburg Silesia in modern times

Bogna Ludwig



The subject of the presented publication are fountains which appeared in the market squares of Lower Silesian towns in modern times. Apart from several 17th century and Renaissance water fountains, all of them were created at the turn of the 18th century until the 1830s. during the period of reconstruction after the damage caused by the Thirty Years’ War. The aim of this article was to determine, on the basis of analyses of forms and iconographic programmes of Silesian fountains, in comparison with analogous European examples, their role in shaping the urban composition of town squares and market squares and their commemorative message. As a result of the study, it was observed that initially, with the introduction of water features, spatial effects were arranged in a Renaissance manner, creating small concentrically composed units. Subsequently, Baroque layouts were introduced. First with short viewing axes forming urban interiors and finally with long composition axes running out of the depths of the streets and including numerous decorative views in shortened perspectives. Decorative fountains were included in the system of ordering and decorating the entire city. Dates, initials and sometimes whole surnames were used on fountains to commemorate benefactors, founders and caretakers of reconstructions of buildings and public facilities and waterworks. With the symbolism of depictions of the biblical dove and the mythological figures of Neptune, Triton and Atlas, like their European counterparts they became monuments of peace and signs of loyalty to the monarchy. Most of these investments can be linked to the two most prominent representatives of power in this period, Prince Elector Franz Ludwig von Pfalz-Neuburg and Johann Anton Gotthard Schaffgotsch.

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