Alessandrino Aqueduct Rome

The Alessandrino Aqueduct was constructed in the early part of the 3rd century. Both inside the city walls ruins of this impressive monument can still be seen. The source can be found to the north of the city of Colonna. The aqueduct entered the ancient city at the present Porta Maggiore.

Alessandrino Aqueduct Rome

Alessandrino Aqueduct Rome
Alessandrino Aqueduct

The Alessandrino Aqueduct was the last one of the Roman Aqueducts. It was commissioned by Emperor Alessandro Severo, whose reign lasted from 222 till 235 AD, and who also gave his name to the monument.

The aqueduct was constructed in 226. The emperor had ordered the Terme Neroniane-Alessandrine to be restored and of cours ehe also needed to supply these baths with water.

The water for the Alessandrino Aqueduct comes from a source near Pantano Borghese. The aqueduct itself is built alongside the old Via Prenestina. Its first 22km (14 miles) were underground, but for the trajectory between Torre Angela and Tor Pignattara tall brick arches were used.

Brick was used as a material, for its qualities of being both strong and light.

It remained in use for several centuries, although the Lombards partially destroyed it in 775.

Where to see the Alessandrino Aqueduct

Alessandrino Aqueduct Rome
The Alessandrino Aqueduct starts at a location called Pantano Borghese, north of the city of Colonna.

Like most of Rome’s aqueducts, the Aquedotto Alessandrino ended at Porta Maggiore.

Ruins of the aqueducts can be admired in various parts of the city, both inside and outside the Roman walls. In the countryside long stretches of the monument can be viewed near locations called Tenuta della Mistica and Fosso Tre Teste, though you would need a car to get there.

Within the city the best kept ruins of the aqueduct are found near the Viale Palmiro Togliatti. These parts consist of a double row of arches and is best viewed from the Piazza San Felice da Cantalice (along the Viale Alessandrino).

There are still visible stretches out in the countryside near, while the most impressive part within the city can be seen near the Viale Palmiro Togliatti.

Piazza San Felice da Cantalice – Rome

Aqua Alsietina Aqueduct Rome

The Aqua Alsietina Aqueduct is one of the least interesting ones in Rome, since it was completely underground and few traces are left of it.

Aqua Alietina Aqueduct Rome

It was constructed by Augustus, when he needed water for his Naumachia. This was constructed in the year 2 BC, when he inaugurated the Temple of Mars Ultor in the Forum of Augustus.

Naumachia was both the word for a mock naval battle and for the area where this battle was staged, in this case a site of roughly 500 by 350 meters situated between the present Piazza Mastai and the Piazza San Cosimato in the Trastevere district.

The water of the Alsietina Aqueduct came from the lakes of Bracciano and Martignano. The latter was called the Lacus Alsietinus at the time, hence the name of the aqueduct. Since its use was solely meant for Augustus‘ hobby its quality was low and it was not drinkable.

Inscriptions on both the Fontana dell’Aqua Paola and the Arco di Tiradiavoli in Rome claim that these monuments were part of Pope Paul V‘s restoration of the Aqua Alsietina, but this was a mistake, since they actually restored the Aqua Traiana instead.

The Aqua Alsietina is also sometimes called the Aqua Augusta.

 

Aqua Claudia Aqueduct Rome

The Aqua Claudia Aqueduct was constructed more or less at the same time as the Anio Novus Aqueduct. Remains of this aqueduct can still be seen in the center of Rome, near the Palatine Hill.

Acqua Claudia Aqueduct Rome

History and description

Aqua Claudia Aqueduct Rome
The Aqua Claudia Aqueduct at sunset

It was the emperor Caligula who started construction of the aqueduct, but it was under Claudius that the 69km (43 miles) long monument was finished. Claudius also ended up giving his name to the monument.

The source is in the valley of the river Aniene. The springs are near what used to be called the Via Sublacencis and are called Curzio and Ceruleo and can be found in the area around the city of Arsoli.

The Aqua Claudia is one of the best known aqueducts since a stretch of no less than 10km of its arches can be seen in the countryside around Rome. The best way to see this is in the Parco degli Acquedotti, where they sometimes reach a height of over 27m.

The final destination of the Aqua Claudia was the reservoir called Spes Vetus, near Porta Maggiore.

Later emperors had branches built off the Aqua Claudia. Nero had a branch (the Acquedotto di Nerone) constructed that led to the Celio Hill and his Domus Aurea (and was later extended by Domitian to reach the Palatine Hill).

In the 8th century Hadrian I would order another restoration in order to get water to the Lateran area.

Anio Novus Aqueduct Rome

The Anio Novus Aqueduct is one of the longest aqueducts in Rome. Its source is the river Aniene near the city of Subiaco.

Anio Novus Aqueduct Rome

Already in the 3rd century BC there was an Aqua Anio aqueduct. When the new one was built it simply came to be called the “new Anio” (Anio Novus) and the earlier one became thus the Anio Vetus.

Construction was begun by Caligula in the year 38 AD and finished by Claudius in 52 AD.

The Anio Novus Aqueduct has a length of 87km (roughly 54 miles).

Its highest arches are in the Capanelle area. This is also where its water was kept, in a pool called the Piscina Liminaria.

From here the flow continued, using the arches of the Aqua Claudia Aqueduct to reach its destination at the Spes Vetus. Since they had simply built another canal on top of this Aqua Claudia repairs were often necessary.

The final reservoir was destroyed in a fire in 1880.

Since the water did not come from a spring but directly from the river its quality was rather low. Accordingly the Emperor Trajan later started using another source, a lake near the city of Trevi (then Treba Augusta).

Aqua Paola or Trajan Aqueduct Rome

The Aqua Traiana (Trajan Aqueduct) was built by the Emperor Trajan and was inaugurated on June 24th of the year 109 AD. It is more than 32km (just over 20 miles) long.

Trajan Aqueduct Rome

The source of the Trajan Aqueduct is near the Lake of Bracciano. It entered Rome at the Porta San Pancrazio (near the Janiculum Hill). It was meant to bring water to the mills of Trastevere.

In 537 the Ostrogoths destroyed part of the aqueduct and the mills were left without water. In the beginning of the 17th century, Pope Paul V Borghese managed to restore and reopen the aqueduct, a.o. by building an arch made of Travertine marble over the Via Aurelia.

The marble arch became known as the Arco di Tiradiavoli (“Arch of the Devilthrowers”), for a stretch of road which was known as the Via di Tiradiavoli.

There is an incription on the arch (AB· AVG· CAES· EXTRUCTOS) saying it was built by the Emperor Augustus. Apparently the Pope thought (mistakenly) that it was the Aqua Alsietina he was restoring instead of the Aqua Traiana.

After the restoration the aqueduct came to be called the Aqua Paola Aqueduct, just as the monumental fountain at its end came known as the Fontana dell’Acqua Paola.

The enterprise turned out to be incredibly expensive and a special tax was created, first on meat and later also on wine.

Between 1673 and 1696 water from the Lake of Bracciano itself became one of the aqueduct’s sources, but its quality as drinking water left much to be desired. From then on Romans started referring to worthless objects as “being as valuable as the “Paola Aqueduct“.

 

Felice Aqueduct Rome

The Felice Aqueduct (Acqua Felice) is one of Rome’s eleven aqueducts and stretches 24kms from Pantano Borghese to the famous Moses Fountain in the Eternal City itself.

Felice Aqueduct Rome

History and description

Unlike most of the aqueducts that can still be (partly) seen in Rome, the Felice Aqueduct was not constructed during the days of the Roman Empire, but in the 16th century. The man behind it all was Pope Sixtus V Perettti and his aqueduct was completed in 1586, after only 18 months of hard work.

When he was still a little boy in shorts instead of a grown man in a dress his name was Felice, and he humbly named his creation after himself. Before he became Pope the central hills of Rome had been without running water for a long time and as a result had been largely abandoned by the population.

Pope Sixtus had bought the source of the aqueduct, but since there was only a small fall, it had been found necessary to alternately use an underground channel and build arches where possible.

The first part of the Acqua Felice runs underground, while the second half is above ground. For the first part it uses the underground channel of the Alexandrina Aqueduct, whereas for the second part it alternates between the arches of the Acqua Claudia and the Acqua Marcia.

The Felice Aqueduct ends at the Moses Fountain (also known as the Fontana dell’Acqua Felice), which was designed by Domenico Fontana‘s brother Giovanni. Three years after the completion of the aqueduct, no less than 27 public fountains received its water.

Giovanni Fontana had also had to repair a rather serious mistake made by the original architect of the project, Matteo Bartolani, who had had the aqueduct slope in the wrong direction, towards the source instead of towards Rome.

Nero’s Aqueduct Rome

The Acquedotto di Nerone was built by Nero (54-68 AD) in order to provide the Domus Aurea (Nero‘s residence, known as the Golden House) and the adjacent artificial lake with water from the Aqua Claudia.

Nero’s Aqueduct Rome

Later Domitian extended the aqueduct to his imperial residence on the Palatine Hill and still later Septimius Severus restored it.

Several parts of this aqueduct can still be seen. Ruins are visible in the Via Statilia and in the Via San Stefano Rotondo (between the Via della Navicella and the Piazza di San Giovanni in Laterano).

Nero’s Aqueduct starts at the Porta Maggiore and then follows the Via Statilia. It follows the underground route of the Acqua Claudia to end up on top of the Arch of Dolabella and Silano.

Its arches are made of brick and are between 19 and 22 meters tall. The part that extends across the valley between the Celio and Palatino hills is 40 meters tall, however.

Acquedotto Vergine Rome

The Acquedotto Vergine (of Aqua Virgo) is one of the most important Roman aqueducts. Even nowadays the water that enters the city through this monument is still being used to feed famous fountains such as the Trevi Fountain and the fountains in the Piazza Navona, including the Fountain of the Four Rivers.

Acquedotto Vergine Rome

It was thanks to the construction of the Acquedotto Vergine that this part of town (the old Campo Marzio) was developed and obtained its present prestigious status. When the area around the Tiber got overcrowded plans were made to move as many people as possible to other parts of the city. In the course of the centuries the Barbarians had destroyed many of the ancient aqueducts, so these had to be restored since the people would not move to areas without drinking water. The Acqua Virgo was the least damaged of these and thus got to be restored first.

The name “Aqueduct of the Virgin” is probably owed to a legend: A young girl was supposed to have shown a number of thirsty soldiers the well. Another theory is that it gt its name thanks to the purity of its water, that, unlike most of the water in Rome, did not contain any calcium at all.

Ruins pertaining to the old Acquedotto Vergine can still be seen in the Via del Bufalo and, more prominently, in the Via del Nazareno. As inscriptions on its arches testify, this part was built by Claudius and used to cross a, now non-existent, street.

Across the road from the aqueduct (Via del Nazareno, n. 2) there is a small door witt the papal coat-of-arms. This was the entrance used when reparations to the aqueduct, the bigger part of which was underground in the Via del Nazareno, were necessary.

The bigger part of the 20km (13 miles) Acqua Vergine was underground. It was only during the last 2kms, from the Spanish Steps onwards, that it was partly built on arches and even, at the time, partly in the open air.

Its source was along the Via Collatina (near the present village of Salone)and ended at the Terme di Agrippa.

When the Emperor Hadrian ordered a restoration of the aqueduct he also had it heightened by one meter.