Aqueduto das Águas Livres, one of Lisbon’s more distinctive landmarks, was built between 1731 and 1749 to provide the city with clean drinking water. If you approach Aeroporto Aeroporto Humberto Delgado from the southwest, you can clearly spot the impressive Aqueduto das Águas Livres on your left during landing.
The construction of the aqueduct was completed in 1749, but this aqueduct has been providing the city with fresh water since 1748. The structure has a total length of 58 kilometres (about 36 miles) and it includes 109 stone arches that cross the valley of the Alcântara district. In the middle, Aqueduto das Águas Livres is the highest and towers 66 metres above the highway underneath. What is special is that the building survived the earthquake of 1755 without any significant damage.
The aqueduct hasn’t been used for over 40 years, it was decommissioned permanently in 1968. Once, the aqueduct provided the entire city of Lisbon with drinking water. King João V ordered the construction of Aqueduto das Águas Livres. The construction was financed with extra taxes, including taxes on meat, olive oil and wine.
Inside the museum you can walk around a huge filled water reservoir. The beautiful architecture and background music creates a special atmosphere. In the middle of the reservoir, on the water, floats a large pontoon you can walk on. Take the stairs and you will see how the former flow of water of the aqueduct enters the building. If there is a door open on entering the aqueduct, be sure to take a look. You’ll see a narrow corridor through which the water used to run.
The source of the water is in Caneças, an old village near Lisbon. From here the aqueduct ran to the other water reservoirs such as Mãe d’Água.
Although Aqueduto das Águas Livres is a pretty recognizable spot in Lisbon’s “skyline”, it is usually not seen as a top attraction. Maybe it’s because the aqueduct is located somewhat outside the city centre and not particularly accessible.
You can get to Aqueduto das Águas Livres in different ways. If you fancy a long walk, walk past
Jardim do Príncipe Real, Reservatório da Mãe d’Água das Amoreiras en Centro Comercial das Amoreiras. From here it is another 10 minutes walk.
By public transport you can take several buses: 701, 702, 711, 723, 753 (stop Rua de Campolide or Amoreiras). From this stop it is a 10 minute walk.
If you want to visit Aqueduto das Águas Livres the easy way, you can take a taxi. From
Rossio Rossio that’ll set you back about €7.50 / £6.50.
And obviously we encourage you to find an electric scooter, that is always an interesting and fast mode of transportation.
The fact that it’s a bit outside the city centre should not be a reason not to visit Aqueduto das Águas Livres, in our opinion. We really enjoyed our visit there, with the view over Alcântara and the special experience that ground level seems further and further with every step you take.
Preparing for a visit
If you are afraid of heights, you shouldn’t have any problems visiting Aqueduto das Águas Livres, because the height is steadily rising. In the middle of the aqueduct I turned around because it got too much for me and I got a bit scared of the height. My boyfriend walked all the way to the end though (you almost walk into the forest of Monsanto ). You can’t get off on the other side, there is only one entrance and exit, so you’ll have to turn around and do it again.
Where to find Aqueduto das Águas Livres
Address: Calçada da Quintinha 6, Alcântara Tuesday to Sunday: 10 a.m. – 5.30 p.m.| Monday closed
Calçada da Quintinha 6, Alcântara Tuesday to Sunday: 10 a.m. – 5.30 p.m.| Monday closed
Tuesday to Sunday: 10 a.m. – 5.30 p.m.| Monday closed