Águas Livres Aqueduct (Aqueduto das Águas Livres)
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Águas Livres Aqueduct (Aqueduto das Águas Livres)

Lisbon's impressive 18th Century aqueduct is an impressive piece of engineering, which supplied water to the city right up to 1967. It's possible to visit the aqueduct, but it's even more fun to walk across it.


Águas Livres Aqueduct (Aqueduto das Águas Livres)

Águas Livres Aqueduct (Aqueduto das Águas Livres)

The expansion of Lisbon in the early 18th century precipitated the need to improve the water supply to the city. The aqueduct was commissioned by the then ruling monarch King João V. Construction began in 1732. The first completed section came into service in 1748. For the main part, it followed the route of a former Roman aqueduct. Águas Livres means 'Free Waters', yet the cost of construction came from taxes levied on food products. The challenge of the architect Manuel da Maia was to design a structure that will carry water 19km (12 miles) from its source at Mãe de Ãgua Velha in Belas to the Mãe de Água das Amoreiras reservoir in Lisbon. Several secondary sections were later added. Expanding to around 60 separate sources from the hills that surround the city. Extending the network of channels to 58km (36 miles). It was the largest construction project of its day and is considered the most complex hydraulic engineering water supply system of the 18th century.

The aqueduct is made up of 109 stone arches, the most impressive span the Alcântara Valley (best seen from the Campolide train station), the tallest of which rises to a spectacular 65m (213ft) from the ground with a span of 29m (95ft), the tallest stone arch in the world. These arches were designed by Carlos Mardel, whose impressive construction survive the 1755 earthquake that did so much damage to other parts of Lisbon.

Walking the Aqueduct

In 1967 the aqueduct ceased its role as Lisbon's water source. It is now owned by the award-winning Water Museum (Museu da Água). Their other facilities include the Barbadinhos Steam Pumping Station, Mãe d'Água Reservoir in Amoreiras and the Patriarcal Reservoir. It is possible to walk across the aqueduct in both directions along the walkways or "passesios dos across'. Historically people used the aqueduct as easy access to the city and to bring their wares to sell.

The walkways are sufficiently wide enough to curb any feeling of vertigo, leaving your mind free to appreciate the incredible views from this vantage point. The path between the main entrance at Campolide and Monsanto is about a kilometre. It lies on a flat plane, with no stairs or climbing of any sort. The aqueduct attained National Monument status in 1910. The walk starts at the EPAL's Water Museum station in Calçada da Quintinha Road, in Campolide.

Getting to the Águas Livres Aqueduct
The Calçada Estação train station is 10 minutes stroll from the start of the aqueduct walk:
• Linha de Sintra/Azambuja: Timetable

Trains of Portugal Website
The 702 bus gets you close, alight at the Cç. dos Mestres, Rua 5: Timetable
Open between 1 March and 30 November, Tuesday to Saturday: 10h00 - 17h30
Museu da Água, Epal, 6 Calçada da Quintinha, Campolide, Lisboa, Portugal.
38° 43′ 11.4″ N | 09° 07′ 11.8″ W | +351 218 100 215
museu@epal.pt |  Website
Águas Livres Aqueduct (Aqueduto das Águas Livres)

Águas Livres Aqueduct (Aqueduto das Águas Livres)