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
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.