The Morosini fountain, in Eleftheriou Venizelos square (better known as ‘Liondaria, or ‘Lions’ Square) is a wonderful piece of Venetian sculpture. Built by Francesco Morosini in 1628, it brought water via an aqueduct from Archanes some 15 Kms away. Beautifully embellished with four lions, from whose mouths gush-forth water, whilst the base has water-themed carvings of dolphins and water-nymphs. At the time of its building there was also a statue of Neptune (Poseidon) perched on top, but that has since disappeared.
During the second world war, Greeks gathered here and tried to destroy the fountain in response to Mussolini’s ultimatum to Greece’s prime-minister, General Ioannis Metaxas, to join the war on the Axis side, as it was seen a symbol of Italian rule. Thankfully, both the demonstrators and Mussolini failed, with the Italian troops forced back to whence they came by the Greek army, suffering terrible losses on their way. Metaxas’ refusal ("alors c’est la guerre" or "so it is war") to adhere to Mussolini’s demands, are celebrated as a national holiday to this day, and are known as "ochi" ("no") day. The square itself is a meeting place for Greeks and tourists alike, with coffee shops and tavernas flanking the fountain.