Fountain Challenge # 40 – dolphins and basilisks – the “Spittel fountain”


Friday again, and this month is still all things typical of where you live. I know that bloggers and foodies alike are heavily criticised for taking pictures of their food or other subjects, with a view to sharing them later. The general opinion being  that if you focus on later you won’t enjoy the now. For me, I have to say, the effect is opposite, as I suspect it is for many of us. I am taking photos for my blog, even if I don’t go out to take them but do it when I stumble across a fountain in the city, that act makes me stop, reflect and engage with my surroundings.he memory of that moment is all the stronger for it.I cannot remember why I was in the city that day, but I do remember stopping at the Trident fountain, avoiding tourist streams (on the left) lamenting the man with the Starbucks cup on the right and the bad weather, while trying to find a good angle for the fountain.



This month’s theme is typical fountains, and this is typical in many ways. Firstly, it’s a large, elegant but still unarguably practical fountain. As I explained in the Basilisk post, up until 1850 the citizens of Basel were dependent on fountains for their water., The fountain above, named either the Spittel fountain (not spittle) or the Dreizack fountain was built in 1834. At the time there was a hospital at the site, hence the dialect name spittel (spital – hospital). It’s also called the Trident fountain, which I prefer. So what is typical?

  • I have mentioned that this is the city of perpetual building work and that you cannot take a photograph of anything without having at least some building poles on the photograph – see post here
  • I have mentioned that the Swiss don’t have an extreme sense of esthetics, which is odd as some of the world’s great architects hail from here, but in general for planning commissions and city maintenance, they are a pragmatic people, this means, if you need to put a poster up then you just put it up, you don’t think about how that might impact the view of a fountain (see left) – also see the sign telling you not to let your dog pee, placed right behind the pretty snail fountain
  • Another typical thing: the plants decorating the fountain, Jude has published a lot of Swiss fountains many with plants adorning them
  • The basilisks
  • The lack of frills – things are named simply – a hospital close by? Call the fountain the Hospital fountain, a Trident on top, why then it’s a Trident fountain, things in Switzerland are not romanticised, perhaps because the landscape is glorious enough? There is a lake called the Faulensee – faul means rotten, why it’s named that, I don’t know, but it does put me off. There are roads in this city called “gas road”, “watt road” and a square named Volta Square. The Americans are great for naming things imaginatively, Silver Creek, Silver Springs, Rockville, when I moved to DC I thought, wow these places sound great, I want to live there. Reality hits when you see the actual place…

Oh and the “trough shape” and drinking water of course. A glorified trough but still very much a practical water collector.



10 thoughts on “Fountain Challenge # 40 – dolphins and basilisks – the “Spittel fountain”

  1. Great pictures and explanation! I am sorry I only got around to visiting so late this year and had to find out I missed most of the fun. Fountains always fascinate me – the way they try to tame the water, give form to something that resists being formed… I think most fountains are aesthetically pleasing in themselves … Okay, there are tacky ones as well, I’ll admit to that.

    • Hi there – well welcome to my blog, lovely to have you visit. I love the way you describe your fountain fascination. If you have any photos for december, theme: anything goes, I’d love to see them! Have a great Sunday Poli

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