Tag Archives: aqueduct system

Off-piste in Granada

I know what you’re thinking… but I’m not talking about Granada’s legendary nightlife. Although I’m told there are 60,000 students at the university here. And they didn’t just come for the studying bit (but don’t tell their parents!).

This is about getting off the tourist trail, high up in the ‘hills’ above Granada, where a network of precarious tracks meander around the steep edges of slopes – and making way for mountain bikers (jealous!) and trail runners is an interesting balancing act.

We started in the historic centre and walked up past Alhambra, one of the most visited monuments in Europe. We thought we’d take a little wander up the dusty track to check out the mountain biking trails.

Three hours later, we’d wound our way up and down steep hills on some breathtaking trails – and discovered the ancient water channel above the Rio Darro.

Built by the original Arab settlers, the network of channels carried a fresh water supply down to irrigate the extensive Generalife orchards and gardens, through to the Alhambra palaces and back into the river system.

2016-10-06-12-21-29-hdrWe followed the water channel for a while, until it came to a private olive grove – with a full-on sprinkler system going.

After running the gauntlet of water jets turning the steep track to a slippery slide, we decided to head back up and find a drier way down the slope.

This involved a bit of scrambling and, of course, a rather inelegant butt slide by moi.

But we finally found our way back down to civilisation, a well-earned snack… and a drink or three.

…because going off-piste is thirsty work.

Water of life

Copyright: Louise RalphIn Roman times, water was wealth. Running water in the city was one thing, but having it in your house instantly put you a cut above the rest.

Enter Pont du Gard. At an impressive 48.77 metres, it was the highest aqueduct bridge in the Roman world.

This is the best-preserved section of an incredible aqueduct system that carried about 20,000 cubic metres of fresh spring water a day, over and around hills and across gullies and rivers, from an aquifer near Uzès to the then-Roman city of Nîmes. Did someone say ‘water restrictions’?

The aqueduct itself is a real feat of engineering, with a fall of only 17 metres across its entire 50-kilometre length.

And looking up at those arches, it’s hard not to be overwhelmed by the huge stones cut and placed with such precision that they could outlast civilisations. Even ours…

Going through the museum at the Pont du Gard site and seeing how it was done ‘back in the day’ is a head-spin (not to mention the museum itself).

Today, Pont du Gard stands as a testament to the legendary Roman determination and ingenuity. It also shows the value they put on having access to fresh water. And a lot of it.

While the average Roman living in the city relied on the many fountains spilling out fresh water, the wealthy had fresh water ‘on tap’ at home – water for drinking, cooking, bathing, flushing, washing, and even for fountains.

Clearly, they were big on wellbeing and a bit partial to the tinkle of water…

And I can’t argue with that.