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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.