Ancient Athens aqueduct restored to glory


Athens aqueduct
Part of the ancient Athens aqueduct in the region of Eleftheroupoli. Credit: Ministry of Culture and Sports / Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities

The Greek government supports a multidimensional plan to re-commission the ancient Athens aqueduct, a monumental technical construction from the ancient world; both to cover current irrigation water needs and to create new points of cultural and environmental interest.

1900 years after its construction under the Roman Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century AD, the gigantic edifice is still in operation today, managed by the Athens Water and Sewerage Company (EYDAP).

Grecian Delight supports Greece

Unfortunately, some 800,000 cubic meters of groundwater derived from it is discharged to the sea each year.

The ambitious plan initiated by EYDAP, in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and Sports, the Athens Prefecture and several Athens municipalities, aspires to redress this situation and restore both the glory and the functionality of the aqueduct that supplied the city with water for centuries.

A huge project that crosses the municipalities of Athens

The underground tunnels of the ancient aqueduct start at the top of Mount Parnitha, north of Athens, and end in the upscale district of Kolonaki, in the heart of the Greek capital, covering a distance of around 20 kilometers (12.4 miles). ).

The restoration project aims to preserve the monument; use its groundwater for local irrigation; greening the areas crossed in order to reduce the average temperature in Athens; and improve its sustainability by linking it to local cultural, educational and economic activities.

“The Parnitha underground waterway in central Athens can evolve into a pipeline of development, greening and oxygen for all the municipalities it crosses. EYDAP is ready to offer whatever is necessary for the success of the joint effort, ”said Harry Sahinis, CEO of EYDAP.

The public company provides the necessary resources for the strategic planning of the project, with the aim of submitting the proposal for EU funding from the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds) under the next 2021 Partnership Agreement -2027.

Long history of the ancient aqueduct of Athens

Begun in 125 AD on the orders of Emperor Hadrian, the construction of the Athens aqueduct was completed in 140 AD.

One of its most admirable features is the fact that it was designed to collect water not only at the initial source, but also to collect additional amounts from other sources along the way through additional tunnels. .

Parts of the aqueduct are still preserved in the Olympic Village of Athens, in Marousi, Halandri and Neo Psychiko, Nea Ionia, Nea Philadelphia and Ambelokipi.

One of its end points, on Lycabettus Hill in Kolonaki district, served as a distribution basin. Another was found in the Agora of Athens, connected with additional basins and branches.

The ancient aqueduct remained the main source of water for the city of Athens for over a millennium – until the time of Turkish occupation in 1456.

When Athens was liberated after the Greek War of Independence, the new city authorities began to gradually repair the aqueduct system and restore its use.


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