Aqua Virgo

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Map of Rome with Aqua Virgo running (red)

The Aqua Virgo was one of the eleven Roman aqueducts that supplied the city of ancient Rome. The aqueduct fell into disuse with the fall of the Roman Empire, but was fully restored nearly a whole millennium later during the Renaissance to take its current form as the Acqua Vergine.

The Aqua Virgo was completed in 19 BC by Marcus Agrippa, during the reign of the emperor Augustus. Claudius retained its life further more through restoration. Its source is along the 8th milestone of the Via Collatina, about 3 km from the Via Praenestina. According to a legend repeated by Frontinus, thirsty Roman soldiers asked a young girl for water. She directed them to the springs that later supplied the aqueduct. The source was named the Aqua Virgo after her.

Along its more-than-20 km length, the aqueduct dropped only 4 m to reach Rome in the centre of the Campus Martius. At its height, the aqueduct was capable of supplying more than 100,000 cubic metres of water every day. The aqueduct ran underground for nearly all of its length. In 537, the Goths besieging Rome tried to use this underground channel as a secret route to invade Rome, according to Procopius.

After deteriorating with the fall of the Roman Empire, Aqua Virgo was repaired by Pope Adrian I in the 8th century. Following a complete restoration and extensive remodelling from its source to its terminus points from the Pincio to the Quirinale and within Campo Marzio, in 1453, Pope Nicholas V consecrated it Acqua Vergine.

See also[edit]

Old fountain at the aqueduct

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