A classic fountain is a fountain designed to evoke memories of an idealized era in the past.
Most look back to the actual Classical era of ancient Greece and Rome. In these civilizations, fountains were more than decorations. They were iconic representations of a multi-dimensional universe where Spirit, symbolized by water, descended from the higher planes to the lower physical plane.
This is why all fountains built during this time in history have multiple levels.
The higher levels from which the water appears to originate represent celestial realms, while the catch basin(s) represent the terrestrial realm.
Classic fountains of this time period were built with strict geometric principles in mind.
The ancients discovered a ratio common to all things in nature (including tree growth, shells of marine life, and even vertebrate backbones), called the golden ratio. The golden ratio is a division of a line segment into two very unique and special proportions.
What makes these proportions unique is that the ratio between the longer segment and the total segment length is equal to the ratio between the shorter segment length and the longer segment length.
Ancient structures, including palaces, temples, and fountains, were all built upon this principle.
(See diagram below).
Classic fountains continued to be popular long after the demise of paganism and the rise of Christianity.
Although Europe’s belief systems changed, the golden ratio continued to be applied to Cathedrals, new palaces, Elite estates, formal gardens, and fountain design. In fact, it was not until the 18th Century that the principles of sacred geometry, as it was called by the ancients, were abandoned for a more materialistic and practical form of mathematics and engineering.
Nevertheless, many artisans and craftsmen today still return to the golden ratio as a foundational measurement anytime they are looking to build a structure with archetypal artistic impact.
Be mindful that not every fountain that you see advertised as a classical fountain in a garden store will be built according to these proportions. However, if you hire a professional landscaping company like Exterior Worlds to build you a custom classic fountain, this ancient principle of harmony, balance, and tranquility will greatly enhance the beauty of your formal garden, entry garden, front yard, or backyard seating area.
Such a fountain will be more than the stereotypical three-tiered fountain that one sees on the side of the road in a pottery sale.
The upper level will always be highly decorative in order to focus attention on the source of water as being something transcendent that serves as the originating point for all inspiration and beauty in the world.
The lower level of a classic fountain will be a geometrically proportional catch basin.
In ancient times, this represented the earth realm and was more often than not circular or semicircular to emphasize the femininity of Mother Nature. Although the perception of nature as innately divine may have since been lost to the world, such personifications of nature still have a profound impact on the subconscious mind and typically give the viewer an enhanced sense of comfort and peace that contributes to the tranquility of the sound of free flowing water.