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01.27.2010

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Aqueduct of Tembleque
Surroundings of Mexico City

Elegantly crossing a ravine in the state of Hidalgo, this aqueduct represents a great feat of engineering and an outstanding example of integration between nature and architecture.

This aqueduct takes its name from the man who built it, Friar Francisco de Tembleque, a religious Spaniard born in the city of Toledo, who arrived to our country during the second part of the 16th Century.

When Father Francisco arrived to the lands of the Mexican Plateau, he became aware of the need to provide water to its inhabitants, who lived in a temperate climate with a marked dry season which didn't allow the cultivation of certain plants. To achieve this, he decided to build a structure that would transport the vital liquid from the Tecajete hill to the city of Otumba, spanning more than 40 kms and crossing a deep ravine in its way.

It's at this ravine, near the town of Tepeyehualco, where the best-known part of this construction is located, an impressive arcade more than 35 metres high. These beautiful arches were built using only the resistant stone found in the area and indigenous labour. The first stage of the construction were the stone pillars which were alligned to the same height with milimetric precision; then, the centring structure for the arches was placed. In order to accomplish the construction of such long-span arches he opted for the most logical and simplest way, he decided the centring for the arches was to be done with blocks of straw due to its lightness and because there was little wood in the area anyway. Thus, one night in 1560, after having finished the construction of all the stone arches, the straw centring was set on fire and it burned away, gradually leaving the aqueduct's structure exposed, in what doubtless must have been an impressive spectacle. All of this represented a great feat for the time and makes this aqueduct a national treasure and one of the most important hydraulic works done in stone in the world.

To get to the Aqueduct of Father Tembleque one must take the Mexico – Teotihuacan highway, then the detour to Ciudad Sahagún up to the road that leads to Tepeyehualco; this trip takes about an hour and a half from the centre of Mexico City.

If you're in the area, you might also like to visit the pulque haciendas of the Apan Plains and the Ex-Convent of Acolman on your way back to the city.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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