Ancient Park of the Aqueducts (Parco degli Acquedotti) in Rome located just outside the city on the Appian Way. The Roman water system consisted of artificial channels for conveying water and run for some or all of their path through tunnels constructed underground. There are three Roman aqueducts which gave a possibility for Roman inhabitants to receive 1.000 liters of water per each person daily in 52 A.D.
What is an Aqueduct
The Romans constructed aqueducts that served as Roman water systems, throughout the Empire. The water supplied public baths, fountains, latrines, gardens, milling, farms and private households. The constructions moved water through gravity alone, for the most part along a slight descending downward gradient inside conductors of stone, brick, or concrete, yet some of the time through steeper gradients. Most conduits were covered underneath the ground and took after the contours of the terrain. Most aqueduct systems included sedimentation tanks, which helped reduce any water-borne debris. The run-off water from the constructions drove urban water-processes, and scoured the channels and sewers.
History of Roman Aqueducts
Ancient Romans constructed complex water systems that supplied the city with massive amounts of water. The aqueducts that are considered as the ancient Roman ones were built over a five century period. Moreover, from 311 B.C. to 226 A.D., 11 of them were created. During the height of the Roman Empire, these water systems delievered approximately one million gallons of water a day to the Eternal City.
What to See
Even today, you can see beautiful constructions that surround the city. The aqueducts had a very complex system and nowadays the Park of the Aqueducts is one of the nicest options where to spend a sunny day in Rome. One of interesting facts is that the first aqueducts to serve Rome were the 16 km long Aqua Appia (312 BCE), the Anio Vetus (272-269 BCE) and the 91km long Aqua Marcia (144-140 BCE).
The the Claudian Aqueduct (Aqua Claudia) was commissioned by the Emperor Caligula in 52 A.D. Together with Aqua Anio Vetus, Aqua Anio Novus, and Aqua Marcia, it is considered as one of the “four great aqueducts of Rome.” It took 11 years and more than 30 thousand workers to build the aqueduct. Moreover, it was considered as the provider of the best water in the city. Nowadays it has the most outstanding remains and you can see them at Aqueduct Park and at Porta Maggiore. Moreover, after the creation, the aqueduct required repairs and it was reconstructed for 9 years. It was finally completed in 71 A.D. by Vespasian. However, the aqueduct was repaired again under the commission of Titus in 81 A.D. Its source was a number of springs in the Anio Valley.
The aqueduct was 45 miles long
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The Acqua Felice was the first aqueduct built during the Roman Renaissance. It was commissioned by pope Sixtus V, whose birth name was Felice Peretti. Also, it was the first new aqueduct of early modern Rome. Moreover, the Acqua Felice runs for 8 miles underground plus 7 miles above ground and reaches its final point at the Moses Fountain (Fontana dell’Acqua Felice). It was designed by Domenico Fontana in 1587.
The three-arched fountain marked the entry of the new water source into Rome
Villa delle Vignacce
Villa of the Vineyards (Villa delle Vignacce) was a huge construction in ancient Rome located in the Aqueduct Park. It was constructed in the 2nd century A.D. and reconstructed in the 4th century A.D. However, it is considered as one of the city’s less documented villas. Moreover, according to the excavations made in 2007, there were baths and heating systems during the existence of the construction. The bath complex had mosaic floors and marble walls. Also, there were different statues and water cascades inside. Nowadays you can see the extensive ruins in Rome’s largest public park with the aqueducts.
The park is public and has over 15 hectares, so you can visit it any time of the day. The best time to visit is at dawn or sunrise to see the beauties of the aqueducts and take great photos.
How to Get
Take the Metro Line A (the red one) south of the centre to Giulio Agricola. Then walk south along Viale Giulio Agricola. At the end pass the church of St Polycarp and bear left, so you will enter the park.
Other Famous Aqueducts
The very first aqueducts were built by old civic establishments, for example, those in Babylon, Assyria, and Egypt. These water systems were built as open canals uncovered between a river and city. However, the most famous water passages were created by the Romans.
Caesarea was a port city built by King Herod the Great between 23-13 B.C in Israel. The aqueduct brought water to the city from springs 10 km (6 miles) away. In the 2nd century A.D., the Romans expanded the ancient aqueduct and doubled its capacity. Also, the structure continued to supply water for 1200 years and was repaired several times.
The Valens Aqueduct was constructed in the year 368 A.D. during the reign of Roman Emperor Valens. It served as one of the terminal points of a system of ancient aqueducts and canals of Constantinople (today Istanbul, Turkey). Moreover, the water system reached over 250 km (155 miles) in total lenght and was the longest aqueduct of Antiquity. Today, the surviving section is 921 meters (3021 feet) long.
The Aqueduct of Segovia, built around 50 A.D., is one of the best-preserved monuments left by the Romans in Spain. It is 16 km (10 miles) long and was built of some 24 thousand massive granite blocks without the use of mortar. Moreover, it is the symbol of Segovia which provided water up until the 20th century.
The magnificent Park of the Aqueducts in Rome is one of the most beautiful and peaceful sites of the city. It would be a great option to come there for a picnic, photo shoot or just to enjoy a day during warm weather. Moreover, there is enough space to run or do sports.