The Acquedotto Vergine (of Aqua Virgo) is one of the most important aqueducts in Rome. Even today the water that enters the city through this monument is still being used to feed famous fountains such as the Trevi Fountain and the fountains in the Piazza Navona, including the Fountain of the Four Rivers.
Acquedotto Vergine Rome
History and description
It was thanks to the construction of the Acquedotto Vergine that this part of town (the ancient Campo Marzio) was developed and obtained its present prestigious status. When the area around the Tiber got overcrowded plans were made to move as many people as possible to other parts of the city. In the course of the centuries the Barbarians had destroyed many of the ancient aqueducts, so these had to be restored since the people would not move to areas without drinking water. The Acqua Virgo was the least damaged of these and thus got to be restored first.
The name “Aqueduct of the Virgin” is probably owed to a legend: A young girl was supposed to have shown a number of thirsty soldiers the well. Another theory is that it got its name thanks to the purity of its water, that, unlike most of the water in Rome, did not contain any calcium at all.
Ruins pertaining to the old Acquedotto Vergine can still be seen in the Via del Bufalo and, more prominently, in the Via del Nazareno. As inscriptions on its arches testify, this part was built by Claudius and used to cross a, now non-existent, street.
Across the road from the aqueduct (Via del Nazareno, n. 2) there is a small door witt the papal coat-of-arms. This was the entrance used when reparations to the aqueduct, the bigger part of which was underground in the Via del Nazareno, were necessary.
The bigger part of the 20km (13 miles) Acqua Vergine was underground. It was only during the last 2kms, from the Spanish Steps onwards, that it was partly built on arches and even, at the time, partly in the open air.
Its source was along the Via Collatina (near the present village of Salone) and ended at the Terme di Agrippa.
When the Emperor Hadrian ordered a restoration of the aqueduct he also had it heightened by one meter.