Nymphaeum in Miletus


The Nymphaeum of Miletus consists one of the most impressive fountain structures in Asia Minor. It was situated at the west part of the city between the North Agora (at the south), and the Gymnasium of Eudemus and the Capito Thermae (at the north). It was designed in the mode of a theatre’s scaenae frons. It deploys in three storeys and the façade’s wall is decorated with columns, niches and aediculae, in which statues were displayed. A characteristic feature of this specific type is the existence of two waterbasins, a basin for the collection of water in an upper level which supplied a second draw basin in a lower level.

At the nymphaeum’s façade niches and aediculae were formed crowned either with volutes or with pediments. The alternation of these niches and aediculae was designed in such a way, so that each aedicule was crowned by a niche and every niche was crowned by an aediculae. Although this solution has some instability problems, it provides the monument’s architecture with an impressive decorative style. The same design in the columnar façade is to be found at the Library of Celsus in Ephesus.

The end of the Ionic colonnade and the gymnasium in Miletus form the northeast side of a square which is surrounded by the remains of a number of major public buildings. On the southeast side was a nymphaeum, a shrine of the fountain deities, dating from the reign of Titus (A.D. 79-80). To its right was a marble Temple of Asklepios (Aeskulapius). The foundations of the temple were later used in the construction of an early Byzantine basilica.

The edifice is today preserved in a good condition. A large part of the marble architectural members of the Nymphaeum were uncovered during the excavations. Most of them are today preserved in the area. From the lavish façade of the first storey the central and two out of four arched niches at the south are preserved. .


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