Lisbon’s unique Aqueduct (1731, 65 m tall), suicides & serial killer Diogo Alves

The city of Lisbon has always suffered from the lack of drinking water. King João V (John V) decided to build an aqueduct in 1731 (Aqueduto das Águas Livres, ‘free waters’). The magnificent construction caused constant misunderstandings between the royal power, engineers, architects and municipal institutions; abusive clerical interference found its way into the fray.

Lisbon Aqueduct inside

Aqueduct Lisbon (Aqueduto das Águas Livres, ‘free waters’)

Today, what the Portuguese think of as the Lisbon Aqueduct is that gigantic set or arches spanning the Alcântara valley, ending at the reservoir of Amoreiras. Its source is known as Águas Livres (free waters) and is located in Caneças (some 18,5 km away).

It consists of a complex series of underground galleries, arches and skylights linked to the visible principal body, known as the General Aqueduct. These are scattered all over the city, giving rise to numerous fonts which, in times gone by, were important sources of water supply for the city.

Lisbon Aqueduct June 2008

Aqueduct arches (65 m tall) over the Alcântara valley.

(I took this picture in the train from Faro to Lisbon).

The main course of the aqueduct covers 18 km. Concluded in 1834 (although it began to supply water to Lisbon in 1748), displays visible Gothic influences in a period dominated by the Baroque style.


Aqueduct and commemorative arch in the Amoreiras neighbourhood.

Video Museu da Água  YouTube

After the earthquake of 1755, architect Custódio Vieira was granted pardon for the profligacy for which he had been accused owing to the amount of iron he used to strengthen the arch’s structure, for, despite being located on a seismic faultline, it had resisted the quake.

Lisbon Aqueduct Arches Walk

Picture: Fajna Asia.

Diogo Alves, the ‘Aqueduct serial killer’

This public walkway along the interior gallery, named Arches Walk, which once offered a wonderful panoramic view to pedestrians, has been closed since 1844 due to the large number of suicides and murders, including those committed by the famous bandit Diogo Alves , the ‘Aqueduct serial killer’.

Aqueduct Lisbon. Picture:  Paulo Juntas Wikipedia

The ‘Free Waters Museum, in charge of the aqueduct, organizes guided visits and tours on different dates and hours. More information

Calçada da Quintinha, 6, Lisboa. Metro: Rato Station (Museum): Campolide train station (Aqueduct).

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