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Bilbao, Spain

Fountain of Dogs

This 19th-century fountain's namesake animal isn't what you think it is. 

This rusty old fountain might seem like a relic of the past, but it’s still very much in use today. The press of a button just above the spouts still sends water gushing out the mouths of the “dogs” that both serve as the spigots and earned the fountain its name.

However, these dogs aren’t even dogs at all. The water spouts were actually made to resemble Egyptian-style lions. But over the years, their intended feline features seem to have faded from memory as more and more locals began viewing them as dogs.

The small animal details may have been a nod to the fountain’s original purpose: Local tales say the fountain was used to wash animals that were to be sold in the nearby market.

The spouts are attached to a neoclassical housing that just barely juts out from the wall to which the fountain is attached. The overall design, which was created by Juan Bautista de Orueta and Miguel de Maruri in the early 1800s, was inspired by ancient temples, pillars, and sarcophagi. 

Today it’s no longer used to clean animals, but instead serves as a water fountain for thirsty locals that might pass by. It lies in the middle of the Casco Viejo neighborhood of Bilbao, Spain, an area that’s been around since the inception of the city in the 1300s. The fountain is surrounded by narrow streets, small cafes, and little shops.