Home / Ephesus Highlihts / Hydrekdocheion


On the southwest corner of the State Agora visitors will find the remains of a fountain. An inscription on the fountain states that it was ordered by Gaius Laecanius Bassus in the 1st century AD.  This structure has come to be known by many names. It is called the Hydrekdocheion, the Water Palace of Ephesus, and the Fountain of Laecanius Bassus. In the inscriptions this structure is called the Nymphaion.

Proconsul Gaius Laecanius Bassus was a governor of Ephesus.  As a wealthy, provincial official, Bassus is credited with helping transform the architectural character of Ephesus while it was under his watch. He ordered the construction of the massive water feature which is situated at the intersection of two main streets, including Domitian Lane. In the typical grid pattern popular during the fountain’s construction, it is aligned with the lane and the terrace of the Temple of Domitian.

The sheer size of the rectangular 105 square meter large basin is what earned it the name Water Palace. This basin was framed by an ornate multi-story façade on three sides. Statues of the sea god Triton and the Muses would have adorned the structure. These statues have been removed from the fountain and are now on display at the Ephesus Museum.

The dynamic water element combined with the interplay of rich, colorful architecture and intricate sculptural decoration would have made the Water Palace an impressive architectural highlight of Ephesus, even without the fountain’s functional aspect. The Fountain of Laecanius Bassus contained a cistern or water reservoir tank that would have served as the terminal point of the Aqueduct of Sextilius Pollio as it entered the city. Since it served to store the city’s water, the Hydrekdocheion supplied the water for another fountain which is located directly opposite it to the west of the State Agora.

Share this page