Project Description

The Stone Bembo and Sagredo Fountains, 16th century
Heraklion, Crete, Greece

project
restoration of the Stone Bembo and Sagredo fountains

location
Heraklion, Crete, Greece

project director
Greek Ministry for Culture and Sports

contractors
Re.Co., Rome;
Nikolas Vakalis, Athens

funding
Regione del Veneto;
Venetian Heritage

start date
November 2013

end date
April 2014

financing
€ 110.000,00

Bembo Fountain

The Bembo Fountain overlooks the Cornaro Square in Heraklion and was built between 1552 and 1554 by Captain Gianmatteo Bembo, who built the first aqueduct serving the city. The Renaissance fountain bears the coats of arms of Alvise Gritti, at the time duke of Crete. The names of his councillors Giovanni Tiepolo, Giorgio Emo and Pietro Marin are carved on the main side. The fountain originally also had a pediment, but unfortunately this was later removed. The water collection tank is a Roman sarcophagus and the headless statue that decorates the central part is also Roman. The storage cistern originally walled into the rear part of the fountain was removed in 1938 to extend the square.

Sagredo Fountain

The Sagredo Fountain was erected by Giovanni Sagredo, Duke of Crete, between 1602 and 1604 for the nobles who would meet at the Venetian Loggia. It was originally on the west side of the church of St. Titus, near the arsenal (armoury), behind the Loggia. The fountain is decorated with a relief of a female figure standing between two columns, holding a club in her right hand and a shield in the left. She is the personification of Crete. There was also originally a representation of the Annunciation, which was part of the relief on the sarcophagus added as a water collection tank (subsequently stolen). The surviving part of the fountain was moved from its original position during restoration works to the Loggia and built into the north wall of the Loggia, on the side facing the church of St. Titus.

State of Conservation (before)

The fountains are made of calcareous stone. There are evident signs of deterioration typical of objects placed in an urban environment, where the atmosphere has a high concentration of potentially damaging substances. The main types of alteration to the surfaces are grey-black patinas due to biological colonisations, deposits and incrustations of dust, polluted particulate and soil, red-orange films, cracks, filling, mainly in cement, from previous repairs, breaking up and separation, especially in the areas most subject to rain and exposed to atmospheric actions, with consequent erosion and missing pieces.

The Restoration

The work was carried out in several stages: archival research; survey of the state of conservation of the entire object including a mapping of the building site; removal of inconsistent or partially adherent superficial deposits (earth, guano and dust); disinfection and bleaching of microorganisms; chemical cleaning and extraction of disfiguring and/or noxious extraneous products absorbed by the material, marks and black crusts; removal of inconsistent filling from prior restorations. Review of the previous structural works and gluing of shards and fragments in danger of falling; consolidation; repair of flaking and peeling; filling of surface lacunae; surface protection and chromatic watercolour review to balance the filler and eliminate the excessive imbalances created in the general tone of the marble and/or between the marble and the filler.