Nothing screams luxury quite like an elegant water feature. The gentle gurgling of water is a sure sign of upscale living or a flourishing business. For thousands of years, people have been commissioning opulent fountains, ponds, and water-powered automata to adorn their properties.
If you are thinking of commissioning a water feature, you’ll need to do a bit of groundwork first. Home and business water suppliers will often be able to audit your property to let you know how realistic your dreams of a beautiful fountain are. This is pretty important: if you can’t run a pipe from your mains to your fountain or have a sump reservoir installed, you are going to be a little stuck.
All practicality aside, here are some of the most elegant, stylish, and downright bonkers water features that have ever existed. For the sake of simplicity, this list will not include public fountains.
Medieval Table Fountain – Paris, France
This unbelievably ornate gothic table fountain was made in 14th century France and currently resides in the collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art. It is a three-tiered idealized gothic structure built partially out of silver. Enamel plates depicting grotesque figures playing musical instruments decorate the balconied outer edge. As water flows down the structure, bells are rung. This would have highlighted the sound of the gently gurgling water with some carefully tuned high notes. Make no mistake; this was an extremely luxurious water fountain.
The ‘Grotto’ – Los Angeles, USA
No one house represents Hollywood excess more than the Playboy Mansion. This party house of gargantuan proportions was once the talk of the town, but fame is fickle, and the house had an atmosphere of crushed dreams and broken promises before Hugh Hefner’s death in 2017.
The ‘grotto’ was the centerpiece of this doomed hedonistic hideaway. Part water feature and part pool, the ‘grotto’ was an underwater zone utilized for some of the more sweaty party activities encouraged by the host.
The Majorelle – Marrakesh, Morocco
Legendary designer Yves Saint Laurent’s Moroccan home is a truly stunning place. The visionary aesthete lived in a miniature palace that combined traditional North African visual motifs with a signature bright French style. Perhaps the most amazing part of the whole house is the garden: a labyrinth of exotic plants, colored stucco, and fabulous water features. The fountains in the garden are myriad, and together they create an atmosphere of oasis-like beauty and refreshment.
The Fountain of the Dragons – Tivoli, Italy
Located in the Villa D’Este in Tivoli, just outside Rome, the Fountain of the Dragons is a sight to behold. It depicts the trials of the Greek god Heracles in stunning sculpture. The Villa D’Este is a UNESCO world heritage site precisely for the many masterfully crafted water features contained within. The Fountain of the Owl, Fountain of Rometta, and The Fountain of Neptune are all equally as well regarded as the Fountain of Dragons. There are many imitators, but no mansion has ever managed to capture opulence quite well as the 16th-century villa.