The Aguas Livres Aqueduct (literally « open water aqueduct ») is considered one of the most interesting structures in Lisbon. This impressively large construction is part of Lisbon’s water supply system and crosses the Alcantara Valley in northwest Lisbon.
The aqueduct consists of 35 arches, the highest of which is 62 metres high and 33 metres long. The aqueduct was not damaged during the Lisbon earthquake in 1755 due to its design. The length of the Lisbon Open Water Aqueduct is 941 metres. It mainly passes underground and occasionally rises to the surface in the form of imposing arches.
The aqueduct was built under the reign of Juan V, famous for his love of large and impressive buildings. The appearance of the aqueduct solved the problem of water shortage in the city, which was particularly important in summer.
Construction began in 1731 and took decades to complete. The construction was carried out by the Portuguese engineer Manuel de Maya, who then actively participated in the reconstruction of Lisbon after the 1755 earthquake. The water flowed through the aqueduct to the Mahe Aguas reservoir. It was then distributed throughout the Portuguese capital.
Until the middle of the 19th century, a pedestrian footbridge was opened along the aqueduct. But after the increase in suicide cases, the pedestrian crossing was closed. To date, the aqueduct is only open to organized groups that agree in advance on Lisbon excursions.
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