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Aqua Traiana

Aqua Traiana

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The Aqua Traiana was a 1st-century Roman acqueduct built by Emperor Trajan and inaugurated on 24 June 109 AD. It channelled water from sources around Lake Bracciano
Lake Bracciano
Lake Bracciano is a lake of volcanic origin in the Italian region of Lazio, northwest of Rome. It is the second largest lake in the region and one of the major lakes of Italy...

, 40 kilometers (25 mi) north-west of Rome, to Rome in ancient Roman times but had fallen into disuse by the 17th century. It fed water mills arranged in a parallel sequence at the Janiculum
Janiculum
The Janiculum is a hill in western Rome, Italy. Although the second-tallest hill in the contemporary city of Rome, the Janiculum does not figure among the proverbial Seven Hills of Rome, being west of the Tiber and outside the boundaries of the ancient city.-Sights:The Janiculum is one of the...

, under the present American Academy in Rome
American Academy in Rome
The American Academy in Rome is a research and arts institution located on the Gianicolo in Rome.- History :In 1893, a group of American architects, painters and sculptors met regularly while planning the fine arts section of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition...

. The milling complex had a long history, and were famously put out of action by the Ostrogoths when they cut the aqueduct in 537 during the first siege of Rome. Belisarius
Belisarius
Flavius Belisarius was a general of the Byzantine Empire. He was instrumental to Emperor Justinian's ambitious project of reconquering much of the Mediterranean territory of the former Western Roman Empire, which had been lost less than a century previously....

 restored the supply of grain by using mills floating in the Tiber
Tiber
The Tiber is the third-longest river in Italy, rising in the Apennine Mountains in Emilia-Romagna and flowing through Umbria and Lazio to the Tyrrhenian Sea. It drains a basin estimated at...

. The complex of mills bears parallels with a similar complex at Barbegal in southern Gaul
Gaul
Gaul was a region of Western Europe during the Iron Age and Roman era, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, most of Switzerland, the western part of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the left bank of the Rhine. The Gauls were the speakers of...

.

Original Sources of the Aqueduct


Both the ancient Aqua Traiana and the modern Acqua Paola were fed by a collection of aquifer sources in the hills around the volcanic basin of Lake Bracciano. The original primary source of the Aqua Traiana is located by Carlo Fea
Carlo Fea
Carlo Fea was an Italian archaeologist.Born at Pigna, in what is now Liguria, Fea studied law in Rome, receiving the degree of doctor of laws from the university of La Sapienza, but archaeology gradually attracted his attention, and with the view of obtaining better opportunities for his research...

 (1832) as close to a stream in the modern district of Manziana. Fea makes reference to a document written by the architect Luigi Bernini on 25 February 1667 to Pope Alexander VII Chigi.

The Manziana source has never formed part of the modern Aqua Paola, but, in 1667, Alexander VII wanted to add additional water to the Acqua Paola to power his new fountain in St. Peter's Square. Bernini measured the water at this source as supplying 340 "oncie" of water of perfect goodness and lightness. This water was sufficiently copious, according to his calculation, to double the yield of the Acqua Paola. It supplied as much water as all the rest of the sources put together.

However, the Manziana water had, since the 1570s, been diverted to supply the mills and industry of the rogue duke Paolo Giordano Orsini
Paolo Giordano Orsini
Paolo Giordano Orsini may refer to two members of the Italian Orsini family:*Paolo Giordano I Orsini , first duke of Bracciano*Paolo Giordano II Orsini...

 in the nearby dukedom of Bracciano, so neither Pope Paul V in the early 17th century nor Pope Alexander VII three-quarters of a century later was able to purchase this particular source, and it remains to this day independent from the modern aqueduct.

In the same year that Luigi Bernini wrote his report, the Pope died, and the project was shelved, so the modern aqueduct was eventually supplemented with lake water. The addition of the Lake Water makes Acqua Paola water unhealthy to drink, and gives it a bad taste, which gave birth to the Roman saying "as good as the Acqua Paola" when referring to something of bad quality.

The Manziana source was re-identified in early 2009 by two British film-makers, and its identity was confirmed on 24 June 2009, on the exact anniversary of 1900 years after the aqueduct's inauguration by archaeologist Lorenzo Quilici of University of Bologna.

Revival as Aqua Paola


Camillo Borghese, on his accession in 1605 as Pope Paul V
Pope Paul V
-Theology:Paul met with Galileo Galilei in 1616 after Cardinal Bellarmine had, on his orders, warned Galileo not to hold or defend the heliocentric ideas of Copernicus. Whether there was also an order not to teach those ideas in any way has been a matter for controversy...

, initiated work on rebuilding the Aqua Traiana, supervised from 1609 by Giovanni Fontana
Giovanni Fontana (Dominican)
Giovanni Fontana was a Dominican friar and late-Mannerist architect, as well as brother of Domenico Fontana.-External links:*...

. At that time, the Roman suburbs west of the Tiber River, including the Vatican
Vatican City
Vatican City , or Vatican City State, in Italian officially Stato della Città del Vaticano , which translates literally as State of the City of the Vatican, is a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome, Italy. It has an area of...

, were suffering from chronic water shortage. The new pope persuaded the Municipality of Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 to pay for the development of an acqueduct to provide a better water supply to that part of the city.

In 1612, the acqueduct was completed. It was initially called the Acqua Sabbatina or Acqua Bracciano, but was renamed Acqua Paola in honour of Paul V.

The fountain at the end of the acqueduct was referred to as "Il Fontanone" - the Big Fountain - because of its size. It was a the form of a free-standing triumphal arch constructed in white marble
Marble
Marble is a metamorphic rock composed of recrystallized carbonate minerals, most commonly calcite or dolomite.Geologists use the term "marble" to refer to metamorphosed limestone; however stonemasons use the term more broadly to encompass unmetamorphosed limestone.Marble is commonly used for...

 with granite
Granite
Granite is a common and widely occurring type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock. Granite usually has a medium- to coarse-grained texture. Occasionally some individual crystals are larger than the groundmass, in which case the texture is known as porphyritic. A granitic rock with a porphyritic...

 columns on high socles. Most of the material was pillaged from the Forum of Nerva
Imperial forums
The Imperial Fora consist of a series of monumental fora , constructed in Rome over a period of one and half centuries, between 46 BC and 113 AD. The forums were the center of the Roman Republic and of the Roman Empire.The Imperial forums, while not part of the Roman Forum, are located relatively...

. Originally, it consisted of three large central arches, separated by columns, and a smaller one on each side. Water gushed into five basins at the base of each arch. The designer was Paul V's usual architect, Flaminio Ponzio
Flaminio Ponzio
Flaminio Ponzio was an Italian architect during the late-Renaissance or so-called Mannerist period, serving in Rome as the architect for Pope Paul V.Ponzio was born in Viggiù near Varese, and he died in Rome...

. Among the team of sculptors involved was Ippolito Buzzi
Ippolito Buzzi
Ippolito Buzzi was an Italian sculptor from Viggiù, near Varese, in northernmost Lombardy, a member of a long-established dynasty of painters, sculptors and architects from the town, who passed his mature career in Rome...

, who was responsible for the Borghese coat-of-arms, flanked by the Borghese eagle and dragon, and held aloft by putti, it is presumed to Ponzio's design.

Then, in 1690, Pope Alexander VIII
Pope Alexander VIII
Pope Alexander VIII , born Pietro Vito Ottoboni, was Pope from 1689 to 1691.-Early life:Pietro Ottoboni was born of a noble Venetian family, and was the son of Marco Ottoboni, chancellor of the Republic of Venice...

 commissioned Carlo Fontana
Carlo Fontana
Carlo Fontana was an Italian architect, who was in part responsible for the classicizing direction taken by Late Baroque Roman architecture.-Biography:...

, Giovanni's nephew, to enlarge the fountain. Carlo replaced the five small basins with an enormous single one, which remains to this day.

In more recent times, a small garden has been arranged, hidden behind the structure.

See also

  • Frontinus
  • Janiculum
    Janiculum
    The Janiculum is a hill in western Rome, Italy. Although the second-tallest hill in the contemporary city of Rome, the Janiculum does not figure among the proverbial Seven Hills of Rome, being west of the Tiber and outside the boundaries of the ancient city.-Sights:The Janiculum is one of the...

  • List of Roman aqueducts by date
  • List of Roman watermills
  • Roman aqueducts
  • Roman engineering
    Roman engineering
    Romans are famous for their advanced engineering accomplishments, although some of their own inventions were improvements on older ideas, concepts and inventions. Technology for bringing running water into cities was developed in the east, but transformed by the Romans into a technology...


External links