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Sixty kilometres of aqueduct supplied Lisbon with water between approximately 1730 and 1880. And today it is possible to visit this enormous piece of civil engineering situated in the north-west of the city.
However, it is not necessary to get your climbing boots on to make a visit here because it is impossible to walk the whole sixty kilometres. The area of aqueduct that admits the public represents only a tiny fragment of the whole structure, which is located in the Alcántara valley and was declared a national monument in 2002.
In the 18th century the only area of the city with a supply of drinking water was “la Alfama”. This gave King Joao V the perfect excuse to fuel his obsession with planning grand projects.
The aqueduct is supported by thirty five arches. The most visible section in the Alcántara valley contains fourteen, with the highest raising the structure sixty five feet into the air. Many architects and military engineers were involved in its construction. Two of the most renowned were Manuel de Maia and Carlos Mardel, who also played key roles in Pombal’s reconstruction project after the 1755 earthquake.
To finance this great building project, a special tax was added to wine, olive oil and meat. If you think about it carefully it seems incredible that something so impressive was built on the proceeds of bacon, pork and fillet steak.
We recommend you get in contact with the Water museum before planning a trip, so you can organise a visit to the arches and see the pedestrian track that runs the length of the aqueduct. This leads us on to a macabre tale: in 1853 the path was closed to the public after the famed bandit Diogo Alves attacked his victims here and threw them over the side of the aqueduct, turning a pleasant walk into a tragedy.
That is all in the past though. So with nothing to now fear you can enjoy a trip to this memorable site.
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