Della trasportatione dell’obelisco Vaticano et delle fabriche di Sisto V is a book written by Domenico Fontana and published in 1590. Fontana was an Italian architect from what is now Canton Ticino. After his move to Rome he was appointed architect of St Peter’s by Pope Sixtus V and thanks to this title he obtained several important commissions, including the erection of the obelisk in St Peter’s Square in 1586. With the death of Sixtus V he was removed from public office and was then called to Naples to work for the King of Spain. During this period a second book of him was published: Libro secondo in cui si ragiona di alcune fabriche fatte in Roma, et in Napoli.
In the title, Fontana hints at the main subject of the book, as it mainly describes the method he used to transfer the obelisk from Nerone’s circus to St Peter’s Square and to raise it there. Later in the book, other works are described, including the construction of the Quirinal water conduits. The description of the different works is accompanied by pictures with a size of one or two pages, depicting the different stages of the process. There is no index in the book, but it is divided into chapters in which Fontana deals with different topics. The size of the book is quite large, probably in order to be able to contain very detailed pictures and to make the book reflect the impressiveness of his achievements. The book opens with a dedication to Pope Sixtus V, in which Fontana praises him very explicitly and in which he also praises all the constructions that were made under him. The author probably wanted to write the book with the aim of praising the Pope’s feats, but also to show everyone what his works were.