You probably think you know the Aqueduct of Segovia well because, hey, you’ve seen it in a lot of pictures. But when you get to Azoguejo Square, and you see in situ the almost thirty meters of height of the colossus, you will realise that is much more impressive than what you had expected. The Roman engineers were really something else.
Without using any mortar or cement, they placed the ashlars with such precision that their 120 pillars and 167 arches still stand, after almost two thousand years. The purpose of this wasn’t to make the city look more beautiful, of course, but to bring the water from a spring located in the mountains, just… seventeen kilometres away.
The work dates back from the period of the splendour of the Empire and probably began at the beginning of the second century, in the time of Trajan or his successor, Hadrian. Both, surprise surprise, were born in Hispania. In any case, the Segovia wonder is not only made up of arches, but it is a gigantic hydraulic complex with ditches, sandpits, deposits and chambers which led the waters both in the open and underground.
Although the most impressive and known part of the Aqueduct is the one that forms on its way through the Plaza del Azoguejo, you should not be satisfied with a selfie in just that place. You can walk along the entire route that begins at the Casa de Piedra and reaches the Alcázar, whose underground sections are marked on the pavement with bronze plaques.
It is interesting that in the city there are hardly any Roman remains that can be visited and that, on the other hand, such work like this has survived. The secret is surely that the Aqueduct was so useful that it was worth keeping it active. And so, with some reconstructions like the one ordered by the Catholic Monarchs, centuries went by. But beware, because it could also be that its longevity is due to some diabolical affair.
According to a certain legend, the Aqueduct is not a Roman work but a demonic one. It is said that a girl, exhausted from climbing the mountains so much to fill her pitcher, desperately asked for something to avoid that effort. The Evil One presented himself and promised to solve the problem, but on condition of keeping the soul of the child if he could finish the work before the rooster crow. He got to work, built the arches vertiginously, and when he only had one stone left to place, the rooster crowed.
The little girl saved her soul, and the Devil went off pretty angry, but the prints of his claws were marked on the granite. Yes, they are those holes that people take for scaffolding marks. Now you know the truth!