The Moor Fountain is located in the southern area of Piazza Navona, in front of the Pamphilj family’s palace.
It takes its name from the central sculpture representing an Ethiopian fighting with a dolphin, realised in 1654 by Gian Antonio Mari on a project by Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
The fountain was originally projected in 1576 by Giacomo della Porta, one of the Michelangelo’s follower, as ordered by the Pope Gregorio XIII Boncompagni. It was composed by a marble basin decorated by four Tritons and four masks with dolphins and dragons, the heraldic symbol of the Boncompagni Family. In 1874 they were replaced with copies, since the originals decorate today the fountain of the Lake in Villa Borghese in Rome.
During the XVII century the Pope Innocenzo X Pamphilj decided to embellish the square where his palace overlooked, and asked Bernini to create a central sculpture for the fountain. At the beginning Bernini created a different statue representing a Lumaca, a snail. Both the pope and his advisor, Donna Olimpia Maidalchini, didn’t like it, so the asked Bernini to create another sculpture. It seems that in order to make fun of them, Bernini took his inspiration from the popular Pasquino, one of the talking statue of Rome through which people used to denounce injustice and dissatisfaction, that had spoken about Innocenzo X and Donna Olimpia several times.