This week, let’s go for a short but lofty walk in Lisbon; a stroll that will show us an important part of Lisbon’s development as a city at a site that doesn’t appear on may visitors’ to see list, and we’ll enjoy some tremendous views to boot.
The Águas Livres Aqueduct is splendid example of 18th-century Portuguese engineering. This structure runs for 18 km, and the network of canals that feed it stretch for almost 58 km.
King John V decided to build an aqueduct to bring water from the parish of Caneças into the often thirsty centre of Lisbon. Its construction started in 1731, it started operations in 1748 and work continued until 1799. This complex project was the work of several architects and engineers, and the result is stunning, for both its technical achievement and its beauty.
Whilst it is no longer a working aqueduct, it is open to the public and provides a walk across and back of around 2 km. It is an easy, completely level, walk with a solid wall between the pedestrian and the sheer drop. The attractive arches above you are superseded by the massive ones below, with sturdy pillars supporting the water’s path. This walkable section crosses the Alcantara valley, with a total of 35 arches, the tallest of which are 65 metres tall.
Not far along the aqueduct, there is a door into the centre of the structure, where you get to gaze down and admire the now empty water tunnel. This passage also allows you to cross to the other side of the structure so that you can enjoy views in all directions.
Entrance to the aqueduct is at the Museu da Água, Calçada da Quintinha 6, Campolide. More information available here.
Copyright Debbie Smyth, 3 July 2017
Posted as part of Monday Walks