Aqueduct of Padre Tembleque

Date of Submission: 20/11/2001
Criteria: (i)(ii)(iv)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
INAH/CONALMEX Puebla 95, Colonia Roma 06700 Mexico E-mail:
Coordinates: 20°21' N - 98°100' W
Ref.: 1592
Word File

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Friar Francisco de Tembleque promoted construction of this amazing work of hydraulic engineering, which took place between 1553 and 1570. It is 45 kilometres long, and starts off at the hillside of the Tecajete volcano, located west of the town of Zempoala. It runs mostly at ground level, but in some areas goes underground, before finally reaching town of Otumba. Feeders supplying neighbouring regions were built at intervals. Three arcades clear hills and span gullies along with any other topographic unevenness the aqueduct may encounter along its way. The first arcade has 46 arches, the second one 13 and the third one 67. The latter is called "Main Arcade", and its construction took five years of unrelenting effort, reflected on each of its 1,020 meters, which run along the Papalote Ravine. According to the chronicles, a warship under full sail, and even Mexico City's Cathedral itself, could fit underneath its main arch, which is 38.75 meters high. Some of the aqueduct's terracotta pipes, embedded in stone masonry, can still be seen. A water collection structure of beautiful architecture has also survived. It is a large, square stone structure covered with a vaulted pyramid roof and crowned by a small stone cross. One of the special features of this aqueduct can be found in the intrados of the supporting arches. Seals, in fact inscriptions, were left behind by the indigenous workers, just as the guilds of masons did in the Middle Ages. Some of these inscriptions are of Pre-Hispanic origin, while others are Colonial designs.