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Caesar's Nymphaeum

The Miseno nymphaeum, identified as "Stufe e Bagni di Cesare" on an 1800's chart of the isthmus, is a most elaborate and mysterious structure.

The nymphaeum installation is an immense cathedral-like barrel vault carved into the yellow tufa cliffs almost directly below the Miseno lighthouse. Easily distinguished looking from the gulf toward the cliffs, the opening is a gigantic arch that rises about 15 meters from the water surface. Inside the nymphaeum floor rests in 3 to 4 meters of depth.

Almost halfway into the vault on the left is a smaller penetration in a well defined archway reaching 3 meters into the side. Water depth drops to another 2 meters inside the penetration and the arcuated ceiling is about 1.5 meters above the water.

A roughly rectangular tunnel about 1.5 by 2 meters that reaches into the penetration was cut through the outer cliff face. Military ammunition in various sizes found on the floor of the penetration suggests that the feature was used as a gun nest. Dates on the ammunition show World War II markings. A fired British cannon ball was also found inside the main vault.

A sumptuous swimming pool was constructed into the floor. The basin has filled with sand and stones. The pool occupies most of the surface area and is finished in cut stone.

The inner section of the pool is basically rectangular with visible dividing walls that create three basins from one pool. Toward the entrance to the main vault, the third basin widens.

Some of the visible shafts perhaps connected with the Dragonara reservoir for obtaining fresh water. There is a geometrical opening with rectangular shape measuring I by 1.5 meters, on the floor of the nymphaeum by the right corner looking from the gulf. It is carved directly into the stone floor and the vertical tunnel seems to end in a dark funnel within a few meters from the floor.

In the waters just outside the nymphaeum is a complex maze of aqueducts that connect to the nymphaeum. A mass of boulders that are visible above the water just in front of the entrance conceal sections of a most unique and highly engineered stone aqueduct system. The tunnel is intricately finished, shaped in an "S" with the sides converging slightly toward the top.
The shaft is 1.5 meters high and 1 meter wide. One end faces the opening of the nymphaeum while the other end faces north.

A huge boulder that appears fragmentary but is almost the exact dimensions for blocking curiously blocks the end facing the vault. The other end is open. Each opening shows double frame sills carved from rectangular monoliths.

A space about 5 centimeters wide separates each pair of sills. The frame finish is exact and precise. Apparently this water control system was used to mix sea water with fresh water in the pool, as well as to perhaps maintain a desired temperature. These sills probably served to guide trap doors that could be slid in and out vertically to stop and start the flow of water.