The Nymphaeum at Amman Jordan

The Nymphaeum, or main public fountain of old Philadelphia, as Amman was named in Hellenistic and Roman times, dates back to the end of the 2nd century AD. It is only a short stroll away from the Roman Theater and Odeon. Nymphaea were built over caves with running water, which were believed to be sacred to mythological nymphs. They were areas of public gathering and seen as a sign of a city’s wealth.

The Roman urban plan organized Philadelphia into two main parts: the upper one with the main Roman Temple of Hercules and the lower part, which follows a typical Roman city plan with two colonnaded streets (Cardo and Decumanus) along the major two valleys of the city. The Nymphaeum was located close to the point where the Cardo intersects with the Decumanus.

With its monumental structure that used to be richly decorated with carvings, mosaics and statues, the Amman Nymphaeum is a half octagonal building of symmetrical design with a restored length of 68 m. The lower part is the foundation built on barrel vaults. The second floor consisted of three large apses with two rows of niches designed to host statues. The height of the apses is around 12 m in front of which was a gallery with columns of Corinthian order. The apses were terminated in semi-domes, which probably collapsed in one of the earthquakes of the 7th cent AD.

After 3 years of restoration, the Nymphaeum Archaeological Park reopened in October 2018.

 

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