It is thought to have been built in the 12th century and was referenced during the reign of King Afonso II as the "Chafariz de São João da Praça" (Fountain of Saint John of the Square). It was created there, on what is now Cais de Santarém Street, to supply water to the fishing neighborhood of Alfama and the boats that docked at the Ribeira.
During the reign of King Dinis, it was moved within the Cerca Moira (Moorish Wall), henceforth being called Chafariz d’el Rei. Years later, during the Siege of Lisbon, this fountain is said to have run dry, leaving the people suffering from thirst.
The fountain had six spouts in the shape of animal heads, each intended for a different social group (some sources even indicate there might have been nine spouts). The struggle to get water in the past was real! A situation that would only improve during the reign of King João V, with the construction of the Aqueduct of Free Waters and a network of fountains.
The structure of the Chafariz d’el Rei as we know it today underwent a series of changes due to its deterioration and the 1755 earthquake. Today, there are only three spouts left on the fountain, and water no longer flows. A memory of the past.