The world’s most impressive aqueducts are monumental engineering structures that shaped the fate of civilizations, not just ancient ones. These structures, carrying water over enormous distances, were not only masterpieces of technology, but also key elements of city life. We present the history and legacy of aqueducts, which from ancient Roman times to the present remain an astonishing testament to engineering innovation.

Aqueducts among best-preserved monuments

The aqueducts are some of the best-preserved ancient Roman monuments. They were built to provide cities with a steady supply of water from distant sources. It was used for a wide range of purposes, from public baths and fountains, to mining, farming and gardening, to households.

The word “aqueduct” comes from the Latin words aquae meaning “water” and ducere – “to lead.” Thus, it is best described as a water conduit, an underground or above-ground pipeline used to transport water from one, sometimes quite distant, place to another, using the force of earth’s gravity. Some of the aqueducts are very well preserved, and although they were built for functional purposes, they look like works of art. Those that were dilapidated were restored to host walking tours. Among other things, this allows us to present a list of the 10 most impressive aqueducts in the world.

The world’s most impressive aqueducts

1. Pont du Gard (France) is an aqueduct built by the Romans in the 1st century. A.D. It ran water for more than 50 km, from Uzès to Nîmes. It is unique in its dimensions: at 6.4 meters wide and 49 meters high, it is the tallest Roman aqueduct bridge in the world. The Pont du Gard is distinguished by its excellent state of preservation, thanks to which it is still admired today as a masterpiece of human creative genius. It has a triple row of superimposed arcades: 6 arches on the first level, 11 on the second and 35 on the third. Its length at the top reaches 273 meters (originally 360 meters with 12 additional arches).

It is the only example of an ancient three-story aqueduct that survives to this day. It was used until the 6th century. In the Middle Ages it became a toll collection point, and from the 18th to the 20th centuries. road bridge. The entire aqueduct consists of several hundred meters of tunnels, 3 pools and about 20 bridges, of which the Pont du Gard remains the most spectacular. Since 1840. has the status of a monument historique in the classé category (monument of national importance), and 5 years later was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

2. Aqueduct in Segovia (Spain) was built in the second half of the first century AD during the reign of the Roman Empire. It supplied water from the Frío River to the city until the 20th century. It represents both the scale of the Roman Empire’s expansion in the first century A.D. and the attention to aesthetics and functionality that are strongly associated with the engineering skills of the Roman world. The aqueduct was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985 and occupies an important place in Segovia’s urban landscape. Along with the Pont du Gard, it remains one of the best-preserved Roman aqueducts in Europe.

3. Valens Aqueduct (Turkey)although the exact date of construction of the aqueduct is not known, the moment of its completion was in 368. A.D., during the reign of the Roman emperor Valens, after whom it is named. It was just one end point of the ancient aqueduct and canal system of Constantinople (today’s Istanbul). The total length of the water system eventually reached more than 250 kilometers and was the longest such network in antiquity. The Valens Aqueduct was restored by the Ottoman Sultans and was the main water supply system of the medieval city. The preserved section is 921 meters long, about 50 meters less than the original.

The 4th Aqueduct of Les Ferreres (Spain) is also known as the Pont del Diable (Devil’s Bridge). It is 217 meters long, almost 2 meters wide, and the maximum height is 27 m. The structure was built in the 1st century. A.D. of large blows laid without mortar, forming two tiers of arches. The upper floor consists of 25 arches and the lower floor of 11, each with a span of 5.90 m. The aqueduct is located on the left bank of the Francolí River. It is the main attraction of the Parc Ecohistòric del Pont del Diable Tarragona and is part of the Tarraco Archaeological Complex (a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000).

5 The Aqueduct of Wonders – The Acueducto de los Milagros (Spain) is an extremely well-preserved Roman water supply system in Merida, Spain. It was built in the 1st century. A.D., to supply water from the Proserpina Dam to the ancient Roman colony of Augusta Emerita, the capital of Roman Lusitania, which became modern-day Merida. It is commonly known as Los Milagros (the Miraculous), due to the awe its state of preservation inspires among locals and visitors. It deserves its popular name because more than 800 meters and 38 arched pillars 25 meters high of this aqueduct are still standing today. Although only a relatively small section of Los Milagros remains, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

6. aqueduct in Caesarea (Israel)Caesarea was an important port city, built by King Herod the Great between 23-13 BC. At that time it had no source of fresh water. Herod ordered the construction of an aqueduct to supply it from springs 10 kilometers from the city. At 130. A.D. Hadrian visited Caesarea during his great tour of the eastern part of the Roman Empire and noticed that the city lacked water. He ordered a major repair of the aqueduct and the construction of a new section. Hadrian’s section, known as “high level aqueduct II,” doubled the capacity of Herod’s canal, known as “high level aqueduct I.” These twin parallel aqueducts supplied water for about 1,200 years.

Today, the ruins of the aqueduct are located on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, about halfway between Tel Aviv and Haifa. The best way to visit it is by the beach in Caesarea. The site, along with the remains of the ancient city, is now part of Caesarea National Park. In August this year. part of the aqueduct has collapsed.

7. Alexandrina Aqueduct (Italy) was built in 226. A.D., during the reign of Emperor Alexander Severus, as the last of Rome’s eleven ancient aqueducts. It ran water to the city from springs discovered at the time near Colonna and Pantano Borghese (Via Casilina). The main purpose of the construction was to supply fresh water to Nero’s thermae, which Emperor Alexander expanded and renamed the Thermae of Alexandria (their ruins can be seen in the basement of Palazzo Madama and the Church of St. Louis King of France). Large sections of Alexandrina’s aqueduct can be seen in the Tor Tre Teste park and over the Viale Palmiro Togliatti.

The 8th Diocletian’s Aqueduct (Croatia) is an ancient Roman aqueduct located near Split. It was built during the Roman Empire to supply water to Emperor Diocletian’s palace, between the late 3rd and early 4th centuries. A.D. The aqueduct drew water from the Jadro River, 9 km northeast of today’s Split city center, and brought it to Diocletian’s Palace through an elevation difference of 13 m. The aqueduct was destroyed during the invasion of the Goths in the mid-6th century. and did not act for thirteen centuries.

The first reconstruction of the aqueduct took place in 1877-1880. Diocletian’s aqueduct was finally closed in 1932, when a modern water station was built in Kopilica, on the outskirts of Split. The best preserved part of the system (near Dujmovača, Solin) has a maximum height of 16.5 meters and a length of 180 meters.

The 9th Aqueduct of Santiago de Querétaro (Mexico) is an 18th-century aqueduct in the Mexican city of Querétaro, to which it has provided water since 1738. It is a symbol of the city and one of the largest structures of its kind in Mexico. It is 1280 meters long and has 74 arches that reach an average height of 28.5 meters. Today, the aqueduct no longer supplies water, but is a distinct heritage and tourist attraction of Querétaro. It is also part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the city’s historic center. The aqueduct can be admired at any time of day and from many points. A good place to view the arches, especially at sunset, is the terrace on Ejército Republicano Street, near the Panteón Cemetery, behind Plaza Fundadores.

The 10th Aqueduct Park (Italy), located between Via Appia and Via Tuscolana, is one of the city’s green lungs and a historically rich area. It extends over an area of about 240 h. The park contains the remains of 7 ancient aqueducts: Anio Vetus, Anio Novus, Aqua Marcia, Aqua Tepula, Aqua Iulia, Aqua Claudia, and the still functioning Felix Aqueduct, which was built in 1585. By Pope Sixtus V on the arches of the Marcio Aqueduct. Of the structures mentioned, the most impressive is Aqua Claudia, built around ’52. A.D. and reaching a height of 28 m.

Today, most of the aqueducts from the Park are unfortunately no longer visible. Many of them ran underground, and newer ones were superimposed on the outer structures of the oldest ones. It was the primary hub of ancient Rome’s water supply network, where aqueducts supplying water to large patrician villas, spas and fountains intersected, connected and overlapped.

A curiosity from Rome – the city of “gratis water”

It is a well-known fact that Rome is not one of the cheapest cities in the world Expensive, for example, are hotels and restaurants. Meanwhile, the city is also generous to its residents and tourists. It distributes drinking water for free like no other – more than 2,000 are distributed throughout the city. small fountains. These are the famous Roman nasoni (colloquially “nochale”), and their name comes from the shape of the tap. They are also known as fontanella (“little fountain”). They were first installed in 1874. and uninterrupted flow of clean drinking water imported from the Apennines.


Photo source: By Benh LIEU SONG (Flickr) – Pont du Gard, CC BY-SA 3.0.

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