Felice Aqueduct Rome

The Felice Aqueduct (Acqua Felice) is one of Rome‘s eleven aqueducts and stretches 24kms from Pantano Borghese to the famous Moses Fountain in the Eternal City itself.

Felice Aqueduct Rome

History and description

Unlike most of the aqueducts that can still be (partly) seen in Rome, the Felice Aqueduct was not constructed during the days of the Roman Empire, but in the 16th century. The man behind it all was Pope Sixtus V Perettti and his aqueduct was completed in 1586, after only 18 months of hard work. The Pope owned most of the area covering the Viminale and Quirinale Hills, where he had his Villa Montalto built. He needed the aqueduct to supply his villa with water.

When he was still a little boy in shorts instead of a grown man in a dress his name was Felice, and he humbly named his creation after himself. Before he became Pope the central hills of Rome had been without running water for a long time and as a result had been largely abandoned by the population.

Pope Sixtus had bought the source of the aqueduct, but since there was only a small drop, it had been necessary to alternately use an underground channel and build arches where possible.

The first part of the Acqua Felice runs underground, while the second half is above ground. For the first part it uses the underground channel of the Alessandrino Aqueduct, whereas for the second part it alternates between the arches of the Acqua Claudia and the Acqua Marcia.

Moses Fountain Rome
The Moses Fountain at the end of the Felice Aqueduct.

The Felice Aqueduct ends at the Moses Fountain (also known as the Fontana dell’Acqua Felice), which was designed by Domenico Fontana‘s brother Giovanni. Three years after the completion of the aqueduct, 27 public fountains received its water.

Giovanni Fontana had also had to repair a rather serious mistake made by the original architect of the project, Matteo Bartolani, who had had the aqueduct slope in the wrong direction, towards the source instead of towards Rome.

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