MNN Galleries

12 astounding aqueducts

By: Matt Hickman on July 22, 2015, 11:21 a.m.
Querétaro Aqueduct in Mexico

Photo: Pabloangulo84/Wikimedia Commons

12 of 14

Querétaro Aqueduct

A Roman-style aqueduct in the middle of a Mexican metropolis? Sure, why not.

One of a small handful of Spanish colonial aqueduct bridges still standing in Mexico, the Aqueduct of Santiago de Querétaro is arguably the most photogenic. The 75-arched stone behemoth, which crosses over the Pan-American Highway at one point, supplied Querétaro’s capital city with drinking water well into the 20th century and, to this day, still supplies water to the fountains scattered about Querétaro's World Heritage Site-listed old city. Completed in 1738, legend has it that the aqueduct was commissioned by the Marquis del Villa del Alguia as a grandiose testament of his undying love for a beautiful — yet unattainable — woman named Clarissa. You see, Clarissa just happened to be a nun belonging to the convent of Santa Clara. With intimacy out of the question, the marquis believed that erecting a massive aqueduct would spiritually connect him with the off-limits object of his affection. Or something like that.

Querétaro’s tourism website analogizes the aqueduct in decidedly less romantic terms: "There is a snake crawling out of the centro histórico of Querétaro, Mexico. It makes its way 1.78 [kilometers] along what is now the avenue Zaragoza and finally hiding its head into one of the hills surrounding the center of the city. This snake is over 30 meters tall, and is made of stone, its blood was the life’s blood of Santiago de Querétaro for centuries. This snake is the aqueduct of Querétaro."