The 58 km Aqueduct of Aguas Livres (free waters), built between 1729 and 1748 to supply drinking water to Lisbon is one of the greatest achievements of European engineers in the eighteenth century. It consists in all of 109 stone arches, the most spectacular of which are 29 m in span and cross the Alcantara valley at a height of 65 m. Most of the system was replaced by other sources of water in 1967.
The history of the aqueduct and of Lisbon’s water supply generally is illustrated in the Museum of Water which originated in a collection of artefacts and documents begun by the company in 1919, and opened to the public from 1987. The headquarters of the museum is at the Barbadinhos steam pumping station of 1880 where there are four steam engines, and displays in the former boiler room. A vaulted reservoir, the Praca das Amoreiras, completed in 1746 and designed by the Hungarian Carlos Mardel, the point from which water delivered along the aqueduct was distributed, forms part of the museum and now hosts cultural events.
The third site is the Reservatorio da Patriacal a French-designed reservoir below the Principe Real gardens, built in 1856-64, and restored when Lisbon was cultural capital of Europe in 1994-95. The building is used for art exhibitions. The museum organises guided tours of the aqueduct.