Top 10 Most Amazing Ancient Aqueducts You Must Visit

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The origin of the word ‘Aqueduct’ is from the two Latin words ‘Aqua’ meaning water and ‘Ducere’ meaning to lead. An aqueduct is a conduit or artificial channel for conducting water from a distance usually by means of gravity. Therefore an aqueduct can best be described as an artificial structure such as a channel, tunnel, or ditch, that is used to transport water from a remote location to another.

Babylon, Assyria, and Egypt such ancient civilization constructed the very first aqueducts. These aqueducts were primitive and built simply as open canals dug out between a river and city. However, the Romans were the most famous engineers of aqueducts amongst all ancient civilizations. The Romans constructed about 11 ancient aqueducts over a period of 500 years that fueled their capital’s water supply and built many more throughout their empire.

Ancient Roman Aqueducts:

10. Tambomachay

Top 10 Most Impressive Ancient Aqueducts, Tambomachay
Tambomachay | image credit www.flickr.com/McKay Savage

Tambomachay is an archaeological site near Cusco, Peru. Nicknamed as “The Bath of the Inca”, the Tambomachay consists of a series of ancient aqueducts, canals, and waterfalls originating from thermal springs nearby that run through the terraced rocks.

Many of the Inca sites in the Sacred Valley have baths and aqueducts as prominent features. It seems like water and washing was an important part of Incan life. Bathing seems to have been such a large part of life in Tambomachay that it’s now thought it must have been a spa.

9. Aqueduct Park

Top 10 Most Impressive Ancient Aqueducts, Aqua Claudio
Aqua Claudio | image credit commons.wikimedia.org

The Aqueduct Park hosts the remains of 7 ancient aqueducts: Marcio, Anio Novus, Tepula, Mariana, Claudio, Lulia, and Felice. From 312 BC to 226 AD, 11 Roman aqueducts were built to bring water to Rome from as far away as 92 kilometers (57 miles).

Only about 48 km (30 miles) was made of stone arches while the rest of the 415 km (258 miles) consisted of underground tunnels. The most impressive of the 7 ancient aqueducts of the Aqueduct Park is the Aqua Claudio which was built around 52 AD and reached a height of 28 meters (92 feet).

8. Caesarea Aqueduct

Top 10 Most Impressive Ancient Aqueducts, Caesarea Aqueduct
Caesarea Aqueduct | image credit commons.wikimedia.org

Between 23-13 BC, King Herod the Great built Caesarea which was an important port city. The first aqueduct was built by Herod when the city was founded. Running water was brought to the city from springs 10 km (6 miles) away through the aqueduct.

In the 2nd century AD, the Romans expanded the ancient aqueduct which tapped into the older aqueduct and doubled its capacity. For 1200 years the aqueduct continued to supply water. It was repaired several times during the ages.

7. Nazca Aqueducts

Top 10 Most Impressive Ancient Aqueducts, Nazca Aqueducts
Nazca Aqueducts | image credit commons.wikimedia.org

The Nazca people built the Nazca Aqueducts in the 3rd to 6th century AD to survive the arid desert climate. Man-made underground channels were used to channel the water running in aquifers to where it is needed. Concentrically paths leading down to these underground channels provided for direct access to the water and the underground channel for maintenance.

These tunnels, wells, and trenches are known collectively as puquios and are still in use by the inhabitants of the valley. Those located in Cantalloc are some of the best-preserved puquios.

6. Hampi Aqueducts

Top 10 Most Impressive Ancient Aqueducts, Hampi Aqueducts
Hampi Aqueducts | image credit commons.wikimedia.org

In the 14th century, Hampi was the capital of the Vijayanagar Empire in present-day India. The remains of ancient aqueducts and canals that were used to bring water from the Tungabhadra River can be found around the Hampi. Those aqueducts feed the tanks and baths of the empire. Underground aqueducts were used to supply water into the temples.

The Stepped Tank, a 7 meter (23 feet) deepwater reservoir was filled by one of the main branches of the aqueduct. Actually, the very discovery of the Stepped Tank was due to this branch of the aqueduct that appeared to lead nowhere. The tank emerged when the Archeologists dug the ground at its endpoint.

5. Aqueduct of the Miracles

Top 10 Most Impressive Ancient Aqueducts, Aqueduct of the Miracles
Aqueduct of the Miracles | image credit www.flickr.com/Rafael dP

One of three ancient Roman aqueducts named The Aqueduct of The Miracles (Acueducto de Los Milagros) was built at Mérida in modern-day Spain. Water was brought to the city using this aqueduct from an artificial lake, supplied by the river Aberregas around 5 km (3 miles) to the north-west of Mérida.

During the 1st century AD, the aqueduct is thought to have been constructed. The inhabitants of Mérida dubbed it the “Aqueduct of The Miracles” in the later centuries because of the awe it evoked.

4. Les Ferreres Aqueduct

Top 10 Most Impressive Ancient Aqueducts, Les Ferreres Aqueduct
Les Ferreres Aqueduct | image credit www.flickr.com/Sebastià Giralt

Les Ferreres Aqueduct is also known as “Pont del Diable” which means Devil’s Bridge. It was built to take water from the Francoli water 15 kilometers (9 miles) south to the city of Tarragona in present-day Spain.

The aqueduct was probably built during the time of Augustus, the first ruler of the Roman Empire. It was composed of 25 upper arches and 11 lower arches. The Roman aqueduct has a maximum height of 27 meters and a length of 249 meters.

3. Valens Aqueduct

Top 10 Most Impressive Ancient Aqueducts, Valens Aqueduct
Valens Aqueduct | image credit commons.wikimedia.org

In the year 368 AD, The Valens Aqueduct was completed during the reign of Roman Emperor Valens, whose name it bears. In the system of ancient aqueducts and canals of Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul, Turkey), it was merely one of the terminal points. In total length, the water system was over 250 kilometers (155 miles), the longest such system of Antiquity.

Several Ottoman Sultans restored the Valens Aqueduct over the century and still, it was the major water-providing system of medieval Constantinople. About 50 meters less than the original length, 921 meters (3021 feet) section of the aqueduct survived. The Atatürk Boulevard passes under its arches.

2. Aqueduct of Segovia

Top 10 Most Impressive Ancient Aqueducts, Aqueduct of Segovia
Aqueduct of Segovia | image credit www.flickr.com/Frank Kovalchek

The Aqueduct of Segovia is probably built around 50 AD. It is one of the best-preserved monuments left by the Romans in Spain. Built of some 24,000 massive granite blocks without the use of mortar, the ancient aqueduct carries water 16 km (10 miles) from the Frío River to Segovia.

728 meters (2,388 feet) long above-ground portion is consists of 165 arches that are more than 9 meters (30 feet) high. The aqueduct still provides water to the city in the 20th century and it is the foremost symbol of Segovia.

1. Pont du Gard

Top 10 Most Impressive Ancient Aqueducts, Pont du Gard
Pont du Gard | image credit commons.wikimedia.org

The Pont du Gard literally means the Bridge of the Gard. It is an ancient aqueduct in the South of France constructed by the Roman Empire. Originally part of a 50 km (31 miles) canal supplying fresh water to the Roman city of Nimes, The Roman aqueduct was constructed entirely without the use of mortar. The stones of the aqueduct, some of which weigh up to 6 tons, were precisely cut to fit perfectly together eliminating the need for mortar.

It was used as a conventional bridge from the Middle Ages to the 18th century to facilitate foot traffic across the river. At present, the Pont du Gard is one of France’s top five tourist attractions with 1.4 million visitors reported in 2001.

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