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Nymphaeum

This huge Roman fountain in the heart of Amman is an archaeologist’s dream. Once restoration works have been completed it will be a sight to behold.

The Nymphaeum was built in the year A.D. 191 and is believed to be the biggest Roman fountain in Jordan. The civic fountain dates back to the time when Amman was still called Philadelphia, an important Roman stronghold. Visit this partially preserved monument to delve deeper into the ancient history of Amman.

The fountain once stood over 65 feet (20 meters) high and 223 feet (68 meters) wide, clearly serving as a symbol of the city’s prosperity. Like the famous Trevi Fountain in Rome, the Nymphaeum was one of the main buildings in the ancient city. But unlike Trevi, the imposing, symmetrical structure remained a hidden treasure for centuries. It wasn’t until 1904 that remnants of it were discovered under a pile of rubble. 

In the 1990s excavation work started, uncovering a tiered complex with elaborate stone carvings, mosaics and columns. The heavily damaged, partially excavated site was left alone in 2002, but thanks to the US Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation, the Jordan Department of Antiquities has begun restoring the site in 2014. With the Hamdi Mango Center as the project leader, recent 3-D technology was used to scan and map out the site before archaeology students and technicians started to clean and refill the stone structure in 2015.

Visit the now partly restored Nymphaeum and admire its ornamental rear wall in which stone alcoves were cut, which probably contained statues. Vaults at the base allowed enough water to enter to fill up the deep basin for baptizing or communal bathing.

Nymphaea were originally Hellenistic structures, incorporated into Roman city planning. Having been built over a cave with a stream flowing through it, the fountain helped distribute water to the city. Caves like this were believed to be home to mythological water nymphs and considered sacred.

The Nymphaeum is located at a busy intersection of al-Balad in Amman, close to Hashemite Plaza. Dating back to the end of the 2nd century, the fountain is from the same period as the Odeon and the Roman Theater, both a short walking distance away. You can find Jordan’s other Nymphaea in Jerash and Pella in the north.


Guide to Exploring around Nymphaeum


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