added by archaeologs An ancient Greek and Roman sanctuary consecrated to water nymphs. It was an elaborately decorated public drinking fountain - a semicircular monumental Classical fountain house. It often had niches filled with sculpture. The nymphs were associated with a range of natural features such as water, mountains, and trees. Nymphaea were often erected near the head of a spring. The nymphaeum served as a sanctuary, a reservoir, and an assembly chamber where weddings were held. The rotunda nymphaeum, common in the Roman period, was borrowed from such Hellenistic structures as the Great Nymphaeum of Ephesus. Nymphaea existed at Corinth, Antioch, and Constantinople; the remains of about 20 have been found in Rome; and others exist as ruins in Asia Minor, Syria, and North Africa. The word 'nymphaeum' was also used in ancient Rome to refer to a bordello and also to the fountain in the atrium of the Christian basilica.
added by archaeologs [Greek nymphaiorv. ‘sanctuary of the Nymphs’]. An inexact term, used of a Roman pavilion or pleasure-house, which could vaguely be characterized as having fountains, statues and flowers; often a fountain with a rich architectural surround.
The Macmillan dictionary of archaeology, Ruth D. Whitehouse, 1983