Wishing Wells of the World

Without a star to witness it, you can always pause to make a wish. There’s something about a fountain, though, that conjures up a sense that making a wish before it will somehow make that wish come true.This strange faith is manifested and celebrated in unique ways throughout the world. The Varsity explored some of the most famous places people visit to make a wish.


1. Shoe Tree | Middlegate, Nevada


Although vandals chopped down this emblem of love in 2010, this shoe tree was once the largest in the States, and inspired a cult-like following. People came from all over the country to throw their shoes into the tree as a sign of solidarity in times of hardship.


2. Snow White’s Wishing Well | Anaheim, California


True to Snow White’s belief in her own wishing well, this spot in California’s Disneyland grants wishes to children all the time. Surrounded by marble statues of Snow White and her seven dwarves, the money thrown into the wishing well is donated to a variety of children’s charities.


3. Covadonga Sanctuary | Cangas de Onís, Spain

In Asturias, Spain, there’s a little cave; and in that cave, there’s a little chapel to the Virgin Mary; and underneath that chapel, there’s a beautiful wishing pool. This sacred site is also the burial place for the founder of Asturias, Pelagius, and his family.


4. Pont de l’Archevêché | Paris, France

The more famous of Paris’ two bridges featuring love locks, Pont de l’Archevêché is filled with padlocks with names written on them, locked with keys that now lie at the bottom of the river Seine — signifying the undying nature of love. This bridge is meant for lovers — particularly the unmarried ones.


5. The Fountains of Peterhof | St. Petersburg, Russia


There’s no place more grand to make a wish than among the 64 different fountains, complete with brass statues and decorations, that make up the complex of fountains outside the Grand Palace. The Grand Cascade fountain is particularly imposing, and is the first sight visitors see as they arrive by sea to Peterhof.


6. Trevi Fountain | Rome, Italy


Legend has it that if you make a stop at this cultural icon and throw a coin over your shoulder with your right hand, you’ll be sure to return to Rome. This world-famous fountain gathers over 3,000 euros in revenue per day, most of which is donated to a local supermarket for the needy.


7. Hagia Sophia Wishing Column | Istanbul, Turkey


In Roman times, rumour had it that Emperor Justinian’s headache was cured by leaning his head on this column. People from all over would touch the hole in the column to their afflicted body parts to heal them. Today, visitors to the Hagia Sophia delight in making wishes by rotating their thumb clockwise around the hole.


8. Western Wall | Jerusalem, Israel

Continuing a tradition more than 300 years old, visitors to Jerusalem slip notes inscribed with their prayers in the crevices of the ancient wall, once the site of the Jewish Second Temple.


9. Qutub Minar Iron Pillar | New Delhi, India


Built to honour the Hindu god Vishnu and the passing of King Chandragupta II, traditional lore states that if you can hug this iron pillar with your back against it, your wish will come true.


10. Qianqiu Pavilion | Beijing, China


Located within the Forbidden City itself, the Qianqiu Pavilion boasts a beautifully structured, ancient wishing well, which guarantees love and prosperity to the wish-maker. With such unique and mysterious surroundings, this well draws visitors in with its legacy of grandeur and mysticism.


11. Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees | Hong Kong


Beside the Tin Hau Temple in Hong Kong grow two large banyan trees. It’s an age-old tradition to write your wish on a piece of joss paper, tie it to an orange, and throw it to see if it will hang on one of the branches, signifying that your wish will come true. Today, wish-makers tie their wishes to wooden racks and imitation trees beside the banyans in order to preserve them.


12. Erawan Shrine | Bangkok, Thailand


When the construction of the Erawan luxury hotel was plagued by catastrophes in the mid-1950s, the superstitious workers refused to continue working unless the spirits of the land were appeased. The shrine was the hotel’s answer. It pays homage to the Hindu god Brahma, and invites thousands of visitors of all faiths to make ceremonial wishes at the shrine, with everything from flower garlands and fruits to teakwood elephants.


13. Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove | Osogbo, Nigeria

The Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove is one of the last remaining sacred forests in Nigeria. Established over 400 years ago, it is a place of worship for the Osuba, Yoruba’s fertility goddess.


14. Fountain of Love | Montevideo, Uruguay

The plaque beside this fountain reads: “The legend of this young fountain tells us that if a lock with the initials of two people in love is placed in it, they will return together to the fountain and their love will be forever locked.”