Catania – Elephant Fountain

Piazza Duomo, Catania, CT, Italia
Monumento a Catania Fontana dell'Elefante

The monument in Catania, the Elephant Fountain, was built between 1735 and 1737 by the architect Giovanni Battista Vaccarini. This beautiful fountain is located at the center of Piazza Duomo, the main square of the city of Catania.

The main feature of the fountain is the statue of the elephant, considered the symbol of the city, which is called by the citizens “Liotru,” a corruption of the name Eliodoro, a nobleman from Catania who unsuccessfully attempted to become bishop of the diocese. Eliodoro is associated with the elephant because a legend has it that he was the sculptor and that he used to ride it to travel from Catania to Constantinople.

The fountain has a white marble pedestal with a central basin, also in white marble, into which water jets fall. At the base of the fountain there are two sculptures representing the two rivers of Catania, the Simeto and the Amenano. Above the fountain there is the famous lava stone elephant, with its trunk raised upwards and facing towards the Cathedral.

At the top of the elephant stands the obelisk, which at its peak features a globe surrounded by a palm leaf crown (representing martyrdom) and a lily branch representing purity. Finally, there is also a metal plaque with the inscription “MSSHDPL – Mente sana e sincera, per l’onore di Dio e per la liberazione della sua patria” – “A healthy and sincere mind, for the honor of God and for the liberation of its homeland” – dedicated to the Patron Saint.