Felipe IV Fountain
In the XVIIth century Pietro Tacca was asked to make an equestrian statue of king Felipe IV.
The sculptor had already finished another equestrian statue of king Felipe III, which can be seen at Plaza Mayor.
The statue was finished in 1640. To have a model for it, Pietro Tacca got two paintings of the king by Velazquez.
In order to solve the problem of the weight of the statue, Tacca asked Galileo Galilei for help.
As the two front legs of the horse were up, it was difficult to maintain the balance of the statue. Galilei advised him to make the back part solid and the front part hollow.
The statue was a present for the king from Ferdinand II di Medici. First it was placed at the Palacio del Buen Retiro in two different locations, afterwards in the park itself until it came to Plaza de Oriente in 1844.
The fountain was made of granite and white stone from Colmenar.
Reliefs, Lions and Rivers
In the lower part are some reliefs by Francisco Elias Vallejo and Jose Tomas.
In one of them we can see king Felipe IV giving Velazquez the Santiago order.
On the opposite side we see the king as protector of Literature. He is being crowned by Fame. The other characters on the relief are Astronomy, Painting, Writing, Literature and Arquitecture. The king is on his knees and Velazquez stands beside him.
On the four sides of the fountain are four lions.They were made by Francisco Elias Vallejo and symbolize strenght and wisdom.
On the front and on the back part of the statue we can also see two images representing the rivers of Madrid. On the side in front of the Teatro Real we see the river Manzanares, and on the opposite side the river Jarama, as an old man. The two children are the two tributaries, Henares and Manzanares.
We can also see some reliefs symbolizing the four seasons.