The Gedeon Fountain stands on the right of the monumental staircase at the entrance to St. Ursen Church. To the left of the stairs is the Moses Fountain. The impressive staircase was built in 1769 by Paolo Antonio Pisoni (Ticino architect, 1738 - 1804) created. He was the nephew of Gaetano Matteo Pisoni, the builder of the Cathedral of St. Ursula. The water from these two fountains flows in eleven jets from a conch shell into a shallow bowl and finally into the large basin. C. F. Meyer lovingly describes this water feature in his famous poem "The Roman Fountain".
According to the conventional interpretation, the fountain figure embodies Gedeon. It was created - like the one of Moses - by Johann Baptist Babel, a very talented South German sculptor who worked in Einsiedeln. Babel completed the two fountain figures on September 30, 1773, the day the church was consecrated.
Like Moses, Gedeon is a figure from the Old Testament and lived in the 11th century. He was commissioned by God through an angel to take action against the Midianites, a nomadic people who led raids against Israel. Gedeon asked God for a sign. He spread out a sheepskin in a dry place. The next morning, however, the fur was so saturated that Gedeon could press water from it. This scene from the Old Testament (Judges 6:36 - 40) takes Babel and has Gedeon show the wet fur.
In 2011, during the restoration of the fountain at the foot of the figure, the jawbone of a donkey was discovered. However, such a bone is the symbol for another figure from the Old Testament, namely Samson. Samson lived a little later than Gedeon, at a time when Israel was oppressed by the Philistines. He achieved many victories for Israel (Judges 15, 14 ff.) and was regarded in the Jewish and later also in the Christian tradition as a symbol of great physical strength.
Who is standing on the well, Gedeon or Samson? Ultimately there is room for both interpretations. It should be noted, however, that since the 16th century there has been a Samson fountain in the cemetery square. So why would another Samson fountain have been needed 200 years later?
Guided city tours
Each of the 11 fountains in the city has its own story. The figures were used to educate the people. Learn more about the strict rules of water supply in old Solothurn on the fountain tour. A fountain tour is a good idea. Book right here.
Good to know
- The 11 fountains and their history can also be discovered during an individual tour of Solothurn's old town.