Agua de Prata Aqueduct
Aqueduct in Évora
The Agua de Prata Aqueduct in Évora, also known as the Aqueduto da Água de Prata, is one of the city’s most impressive monuments due to its size and historical significance. The aqueduct is a testament to the ingenuity of ancient times in providing water to the people of Évora. It has been considered a Portuguese National Monument since 1910.
Construction of the Agua de Prata Aqueduct began in 1532 under the direction of the royal architect Francisco de Arruda, at the behest of King João III. The aqueduct spans 11 miles (18 km) and starts from Divor estate, where it draws its water supply, and reaches the centre of Évora. The Renaissance-style piping and granite arches were most likely built over the remains of the old Roman aqueduct. The aqueduct was completed in 1537 with a grand inauguration ceremony attended by the king and his court in Giraldo Square, where a marble fountain with lions and a Roman triumph arch were built, later replaced in the square’s remodelling.
Apart from its primary function, the aqueduct also includes other parts that add to the historic significance of Évora. For example, the Renaissance-style Fecho Real do Aqueduto, a beautiful gantry, was located near São Francisco Church until 1873. A Renaissance-style Water Box was built on Rua Nova, with its 12 Tuscan columns still visible today.
Throughout the centuries, the Agua de Prata Aqueduct has undergone several changes, including the addition of several fountains along the passage through the historic centre of Évora. These fountains were gravity-fed and include Portas de Moura fountain, Giraldo Square fountain, Portas de Avis fountain, Chão das Covas fountain, and the fountain and tanks in Rossio de S. Brás.
The aqueduct underwent restoration work in the 17th century due to the Guerras da Restauração (Wars of Succession and Restoration), with further construction work taking place in the 19th and 20th centuries. However, these interventions did not significantly alter the original design.
The most recent intervention involved the creation of the Percurso da Água de Prata (Agua de Prata Walking and Cycling Route), which follows the aqueduct for 5.1 miles (8.3 km) through cork oak forests and farms. Visitors can breathe the pure Alentejo air and enjoy a view of Évora in the distance. For those who prefer a shorter route, following the Agua de Prata Aqueduct from Porta da Lagoa (R114-4 road Évora-Arraiolos) into the historic centre of Évora is also possible. Here, the houses have become intertwined with this 16th-century construction, adding to its charm and historical significance.
Take plenty of liquids – ironically, there’s no drinkable water along the way.