Albear Aqueduct, Masterpiece of Civil Engineering
BY YAIMARA PORTUONDO
The Albear aqueduct is an extraordinary work of civil engineering that was built in Havana in the second half of the 19th century. It was considered one of the most important works of that time in the world.
Of great technical precision, the project of that monumental creation was approved in 1858 and its construction began in 1861, led by Francisco Albear. Considered one of the seven marvels of Cuban civil engineering, it was declared a National Monument.
Due to the poor water services in Havana at that time, Engineer Colonel Francisco de Albear y Lara was assigned the task of bringing the precious liquid to the city via the aqueduct, which later would take his name.
It was not until 1893, 45 years after construction began, that the work was completed.
Havana’s water supply system was thus inaugurated at a ceremony attended by Captain General Alejandro Rodríguez Arias y Rodulfo, the Bishop of Havana Manuel Santander and other local authorities.
The functioning of the aqueduct is based on gravity, and the design includes pipelines from almost 400 springs, the Almendares River tunnel, the Vento Canal, the Palatino reservoirs and the distribution system.
The land around the Palatino reservoirs were turned into beautiful gardens, with four sculptures representing the seasons of the year erected in one of those areas.
The aqueduct more than met the population’s need for excellent water supply at that time, and it has continued to function efficiently up to the present day.
Its excellent design earned due recognition both in Cuba and abroad. The internationally famous Albear Aqueduct is one of the most famous legacies of Cuban engineering and considered the most important project constructed in the 19th century.