Aqueduct – a true work of engineering. Do you know what it is?


Water has always been considered an essential element for the survival and development of civilization. For this reason, people have looked for ways to control its flow and ensure continued access to the resources needed for consumption and irrigation of fields. One of the most effective solutions was the construction of aqueducts.

The aqueduct is one of the oldest and best-preserved engineering works in the world. For thousands of years, these impressive structures have provided water to cities, agriculture and industry. Over the centuries, they have evolved from simple canals to complex structures of stone, concrete and brick. They are used to transport water from distant sources using gravity. The destination point is most often cities.

Do you know where the oldest aqueduct is located?

Aqueducts were built as early as the 2nd millennium BC. They existed, for example, at Knossos (Crete, circa 2000 BC), at Gezer (Palestine, circa 1900 BC) or at Mycenae (Greece, circa 1200 BC). However, it was the Romans who transformed them into amazing architectural wonders that became one of the most important pieces of infrastructure.

The oldest Roman aqueducts are the Aqua Appia and Aqua Anio Vetus. The first of these, was built in 312. BC and had a length of approx. 16.4 km. It was made of stone and ran almost entirely underground, with only a section of approx. 90 m was carried out on the surface. The water was taken from the mouth of the Anio and then transported by canals to Rome.

Construction of the second of the aqueduct’s architectural wonders, Aqua Anio Vetus, began in 272. BC. The aqueduct was four times longer than the Aqua Appia, and its construction was much more complicated. It was based on a system of pipes, canals and tunnels that allowed water to flow along a stretch of approx. 64 km also from the mountainous terrain of Anio to the city.

The best preserved aqueduct in the world

Many of the world’s best-preserved aqueducts date back to ancient Rome. Between 312 and 537, the Romans built a canal system with a length of approx. 500 km, which supplied water to the city. Less than 200 fragments have survived to this day. Some are still in use or have been shut down quite recently, such as in Rome, Athens and Segovia.

The Pont du Gard aqueduct is considered one of the best-preserved systems from Roman times. It was built in the 1st century. n. e. in southern France to bring water from the Uzès area to the city of Nemausus (today’s Nimes). It had a length of more than 50 km. The Pont du Gard was built of stone and consisted of three tiers of arcades reaching a height of 50 meters. It had been in use for hundreds of years, but the lack of proper maintenance after the fall of the Roman Empire, led to its clogging and significant pollution that eventually stopped the flow. Although it stopped carrying water, it continued to perform its secondary function – a toll bridge.

In the 18th century. has become a tourist attraction and has undergone a series of renovations commissioned by local authorities and the French state. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. Today, the Pont du Gard aqueduct is one of France’s most popular tourist attractions.

Aqueducts are no doubt works of engineering, but they are also our water historical heritage. The oldest and best-preserved of these are structures that have survived the centuries and remain an incredible inspiration for today’s designers.

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