The Fountain of Shame, also known as Pretoria Fountain, is one of the most emblematic art works of Palermo, situated in Pretoria Square, in the heart of the historical city center. This fountain is one of the main attractions of Palermo and it has an interesting history.
It was commissioned by the city governor of that time, Pietro of Toledo, and it was created between 1554 and 1555 by the Florentine architect Francesco Camilliani. The fountain is a fine example of the Italian Renaissance and it presents a Baroque style with Classical influences.
The fountain is known as “the fountain of shame” because of the numerous statues that decorate it; most of them represent naked mythological figures, which some explicit details. This representation of naked or semi-naked statues, some of which have been re-painted to cover the intimate parts, led to numerous moral critiques during the past centuries, giving this name to the fountain. At first, the fountain was commissioned to embellish a private villa, but later on it was donated to the city.
The Fountain of Shame is a majestic circular structure with a large central tank and many gushes of water. The statues, sculpted by different artists of that time, are distributed in various levels of the fountain, creating a fascinating artistic composition.The square that surrounds the fountain is a popular place for tourists and the citizens of Palermo, and it is often animated by cultural and social events. The Fountain of Shame is a testimony of the Renaissance art in Sicily and it represents an important point of reference of the city’s history and culture.