Roman Aqueducts were nothing less than the lifeblood of the Roman Empire. These incredible feats of ancient engineering provided the water that sated the Empire’s thirst – not just water for drinking, but for public baths, sewerage, farming spectacles and games.
Without these remarkable structures, the cities of the Roman Empire could not have grown to the sizes they did, and the Roman world would have stagnated through lack of this crucial resource. The city of Rome itself boasted eleven aqueducts at the height of Empire, and the population soared beyond one million people – all dependent on the engineering expertise of those who designed and built the Roman aqueduct system.
Today, few things better demonstrate the engineering prowess of the Roman Empire than those Roman aqueducts that still survive today. From the famous Pont du Gard to the aqueducts of Caesarea and Segovia, these amazing historical sites are some of the most impressive Roman remains on the planet.
For those seeking to explore these ancient wonders, you will find a list of Roman aqueducts below. Click on each entry for more information, directions and practical tips for a visit.
Probably the most famous Roman aqueduct, and visually the most impressive, Pont du Gard forms part of the construction which once supplied Roman Nimes with water. Guided tours of this UNESCO site take visitors right into the heart of the monument.
Pont du Gard is an iconic Ancient Roman bridge and aqueduct built in first century AD and located near Nimes in France. In fact, it was the tallest bridge ever built by the Romans, rising 160 feet.
Nimes had been a major city of Gaul before 45BC, when it was incorporated in the Roman Empire. As the city’s population grew, exceeding 20,000, the need for water surpassed the available supplies of the Nemausus spring. Thus, from 40AD, over 1,000 workers were engaged in building Pont du Gard in order to transfer water from the Gard River (the Eure) to the city. Upon its completion, it would stay in use until the sixth century, when it was finally abandoned.
Since then, Pont du Gard has undergone a series of restoration projects and is now a spectacular place to visit. In 1985 it was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Today guided tours of Pont du Gard take visitors right to the very heart of this iconic structure to see the how such an engineering feat was achieved and how the aqueduct operated. Visitors can also walk the full length of the bridge itself and explore this Roman marvel up close. These tours last approximately 1.5 hours.
There is also a Pont du Gard museum on site that explores the engineering techniques used by the Romans to build the bridge as well as the history of the area in which it is built, which actually stretches back to prehistoric times. Other exhibits found within the museum also focus on the history of Nimes and the surrounding area during the Roman era.
An amazing sight in the heart of this Spanish city, the Segovia Aqueduct is one of the best preserved Roman aqueducts in existence. Weaving its way through the modern city, this ancient engineering feat looms over the urban sprawl at heights of almost 30 metres.
Segovia Aqueduct is one of the best preserved Roman structures in the world and represents a brilliant feat of engineering.
Built at around the end of the first / beginning of the second century AD, the Segovia Aqueduct still stands tall and includes two levels of granite arches to a total length of 800 metres.
Despite suffering damage under the Moors, this stunning site now weaves through Segovia, looming over the urban sprawl at a maximum height of almost 30 metres. The best place to see Segovia Aqueduct is probably at the Plaza de Azoguejo.
Segovia Aqueduct is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Old Town of Segovia and its Aqueduct.
A spectacular site, rising to three levels in places, the Los Milagros Aqueduct in Merida supplied water to Roman Augusta Emerita. Though only small sections survive, this remains one of the best Roman aqueducts that can still be explored today.
The Los Milagros Aqueduct (Acueducto de Los Milagros) is an incredibly well-preserved Roman water supply system in Merida, Spain.
Comprised of a trio of levels of looming brick arches, the remains of the Los Milagros Aqueduct are a fantastic example of Roman engineering. In ancient Roman times, the Los Milagros Aqueduct would have supplied water to Augusta Emerita, which was the capital of Roman Lusitania and which would become modern Merida. Today, it is visible from afar and can be viewed from the roadside and surrounding fields.
Together with other sites such as the Merida Roman Circus and Merida Amphitheatre, the Los Milagros Aqueduct is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
One of the largest Roman aqueducts ever built, the Zaghouan Aqueduct supplied water to Roman Carthage. Built by Emperor Hadrian, it stretched for over 100 miles. Today large sections still survive, though you have to put a bit of effort in to view them.
The Zaghouan Aqueduct - or Aqueduct of Hadrian - was a Roman aqueduct which supplied water to the ancient city of Carthage, the ruins of which can still be seen today.
Built around 130 AD, during the reign of the Emperor Hadrian, the Zaghouan Aqueduct was constructed as a response to a number of years of drought which had hit the area.
The aqueduct was partially restored in the 19th century but today lies mostly in ruins. Some of the best remains can be found about 3km south of the village of Mohammedia (marked on the map).
One of several aqueducts which supplied the city of Rome, the remains of the Acqua Marcia can still be explored. Built in the first century BC, the years have taken their toll on this site and its hard to imagine its former grandeur.
The Acqua Marcia is one of seven of Rome’s aqueducts which are located within the Appia Antica Regional Park. Built between 44 and 42 BC, significant stretches of this ancient aqueduct, with its monumental arches and brickwork, can still be seen today. However, it is far from its original glory, with much of the site having been destroyed during the construction of the Felice Aqueduct.
One of the most popular ways to view the Acqua Marcia is by bicycle, rented from the Appia Antica Regional Park.
The picturesque Roman town of Baelo Claudia lies in Southern Spain and contains the remains of this former Roman city. Among the ruins are scattered elements of the three aqueducts which once served this city, though they have seen considerable degradation over the years.
The Roman city of Baelo Claudia in Andalusia is one of the best surviving examples of an ancient Roman town in Spain. Sitting directly on the coast, Baelo Claudia is a beautiful site to visit, with both stunning views and ancient ruins.
The remains of Baelo Claudia, near the modern town of Tarifa, have been beautifully restored and preserved because of the good general conservation of the ruins, their easy interpretation and the beauty of their surroundings.
Although founded in the second century BC, Baelo Claudia began to expand as an important trading post in the first century BC and first century AD, particularly under the rule of the Roman Emperor Claudius. Baelo Claudia was expanded to include significant municipal areas, including a forum, theatre and market. It was particularly known for its trade in the Roman sauce called garum.
In latter centuries, it is believed that Baelo Claudia suffered due to an earthquake and the onset of raiders and pirates in the area and the site was abandoned towards the end of the Western Roman Empire period, probably in the 6th century.
Today, Baelo Claudia is a place where visitors can observe the fundamental characteristics of a classical Roman city and there are many aspects to the site that can still be viewed. These include the forum and the temples of the Capitolium as well as temples of eastern character such as that which is dedicated to Isis. Beyond these elements are a Basilica, administrative buildings or the municipal archive, market, theatre, baths, city walls & gates, streets, aqueducts and cisterns.
There are numerous Roman cities whose remains can still be seen in greater or lesser measure in the Andalusian territory and a visit to Baelo Claudia is certain to inspire further exploration.
Baelo Claudia has a visitor’s centre on site and has many facilities to make a trip there convenient for tourists, including a car park next door. This amazing ancient city features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions of Spain.
Giving another view of the Roman aqueduct system, these amazingly well preserved ancient storage tanks supplied water ancient Carthage and, though slightly off the beaten track, are well worth a visit.
La Malga Cisterns are vast ancient storage tanks used to supply water to the ancient city of Carthage.
An aqueduct system - the Zaghouan Aqueduct - that ran for over 100km brought water to the ancient metropolis and the Malga Cisterns were used to store that water and then run it through to the city and to supply the Antonine Baths.
Converted for other uses - such as stable blocks - after the fall of Rome, the Malga Cisterns have survived remarkably well and are certainly one of the more interesting Roman sites to explore.
La Malga Cisterns features as one of our Top Visitor Attractions of Tunisia.
The stunning Tarragona Aqueduct is the last remaining section of the ancient aqueduct which served the Roman city of Tarraco.
The stunning Tarragona Aqueduct is the last remaining section of the ancient aqueduct which served the Roman city of Tarraco.
Also known as Pont de les Ferreres or Pont del Diable, it is believed to have been built in the first century AD during the reign of the Emperor Augustus. The original Roman aqueduct ran for over 25km and took water from the river Francoli all the way to the city of Tarraco.
Most of the aqueduct fell to ruin after the fall of the Empire but the impressive surviving section, which spans a small valley about 4km to the north of modern Tarragona, was preserved and restored over the centuries - including by caliph Abd-el Rahman III and later repairs in the 18th century.
Today the Tarragona Aqueduct is a beautiful site to visit, nestling as it does in the green valleys and picturesque hills of the Spanish countryside. The remaining section rises a colossal 90 feet from the ground at its highest point, and has an upper tier containing 25 arches with 11 underneath. Tours are available to take visitors across the bridge, though they’re not for the faint-hearted!
As an interesting side-fact, the Pont de les Ferreres is also widely known as the or Pont del Diable - meaning the Devil’s Bridge because of a local legend which says it was constructed by the Devil after winning a bet in which a fair lady bet her soul. Dark stuff…
One of the more impressive surviving Roman aqueducts, a number of well-preserved sections of this ancient structure can still be seen outside the ruins of the Roman city of Caesarea.
The Caesarea Aqueduct is the picturesque, well-preserved ruin of the ancient Roman aqueduct which served the city of Caesarea.
Mostly constructed during the reign of King Herod the Great, the majority of the great public buildings, infrastructure and monuments of Caesarea were built from around 22 BC onwards.
The city became a thriving commercial hub which hosted sporting events and which flourished further under the Byzantines. However, the city had no reliable fresh water supply at the time of construction and the growing population demanded greater supplies of water to furnish the various public and private demands of a Roman city. The aqueduct was therefore built to provide this supply and was further expanded as the city grew in the following centuries.
In later years Caesarea's importance diminished and, though the aqueduct fell in to disuse, it has remained in a relatively good state of preservation to this day.
One of the large aqueducts built to supply the ever-growing city of Rome, the Claudio Aqueduct was built by Emperor Claudius. A number of sections have survived in quite good condition, with the best probably found within the Appia Antica Regional Park.
The Claudio Aqueduct (Acquedotto Claudio) was one of Rome’s ancient aqueducts.
Whilst it was the Emperor Claudius, after whom it is named, who completed the Claudio Aqueduct in 52 AD, it was his predecessor, the Emperor Caligula who began its construction in 38AD.
Today, parts of the Claudio Aqueduct are fairly well preserved and can be seen within the Appia Antica Regional Park.
Though not an aqueduct from ancient times, the Felice Aqueduct served medieval Rome and was inspired by its ancient counterparts.
The Felice Aqueduct in Rome is a late sixteenth century aqueduct built by Pope Sixtus V in order to provide parts of Rome with water. Parts of this aqueduct can still be seen today.
The site is within the Via Appia Antica Regional Park, which offers bicycle hire to see all of the sites in the area.
Located just outside modern Lyon in France, the Gier Aqueduct once served its Roman counterpart, Lugdunum. Running alongside the modern highways, this is an impressive site to explore on your way to the city.
The Gier Aqueduct was a Roman aqueduct used by the Gallo-Roman city of Lugdunum, which would later become the city of Lyon.
At the time, the Gier Aqueduct would have been one of four aqueducts supplying water to this important and highly populated city.
Today, the impressively restored remains of the Gier Aqueduct, with its stone arches, can be seen just south of Lyon, on the roadside in Chaponost.
Though its origins are hazy, the Skopje Aqueduct is a large stone structure in Macedonia made up of at least fifty-five archways, which was possibly built by the Romans.
The Skopje Aqueduct is a well preserved stone aqueduct located north of the Macedonian city of Skopje.
A large stone structure made up of fifty-five archways, the origins of Skopje Aqueduct are unclear. Whilst it is known to have existed as far back as Ottoman times, some say that it was built by the ancient Romans.