Aqueducts and viaducts are two types of bridges that are very similar in appearance as they both typically consist of arches and stretch across a valley or a hollow. Nevertheless, they differ in their functions as aqueducts carry water while viaducts carry road or rail traffic. There are also some aqueducts where one can navigate a narrowboat such as the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in Wales.
Here are some of the most impressive aqueducts and viaducts around Europe.
Pegões Aqueduct in Tomar, Portugal
The 7 km-long Pegões Aqueduct was built in the 16th century to supply water for the Convent of Christ. Accordingly, Filipe Terzi, the main architect of the Convent of Christ, was in charge of the construction. The aqueduct consists of 180 arches and still maintains its status as one of the most important aqueducts in Portugal.
Ouse Valley Viaduct in Sussex, Great Britain
Built in 1838, the Ouse Valley viaduct carries the London-Brighton line over the River Ouse. The viaduct contains 37 identical tunnels that create an optical illusion of a never-ending row of archways. Therefore, this red-bricked Victorian bridge has become a popular setting for Instagram posts today.
Aqueduct of Segovia in Segovia, Spain
The Aqueduct of Segovia is a Roman structure built under the rule of Trajan during the second half of the 1st century AD. This remarkable granite structure still carries water 16 km from the Frío River to the city of Segovia. It consists of 165 arches and measures 28.5 meters (93.5 feet) high and 728 meters long aboveground.
Pont Du Gard in Southern France
Pont du Gard is a 1st-century Roman structure that supplied water to the city of Nîmes, an ancient Roman colony. This triple bridge measures 50.02 km long and 48.77 m high at the deepest part of the Gordon River valley. The Pont Du Gard became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985 due to its well-preserved situation.
Ribblehead Viaduct in North Yorkshire, UK
Built between 1870 and 1874, the Ribblehead Viaduct carries the Settle–Carlisle railway across Batty Moss in the Ribble Valley. It measures 400 m long and 32 m high and consists of 24 arches. 2300 men worked for the construction of this viaduct. However, more than a hundred lost their lives during the construction due to construction-related accidents, fighting, or outbreaks of smallpox. So, there is a memorial for the railway workers of Ribblehead Viaduct in the Church of England.
Glenfinnan Viaduct in Inverness-shire, Scotland
Measuring 380 m long and 30 high, the Glenfinnan Viaduct is the longest concrete viaduct in Scotland. This late 19th-century structure is also the famous railway bridge in the Harry Potter movies.
Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in Wales
The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct was a pioneering work of engineering during the Industrial Revolution in the UK. The navigable aqueduct consists of metal arches supported by masonry piers. Moreover, its engineer Thomas Telford did not use any locks, which made the bridge an innovative masterpiece of the British ironmaking industry.
Landwasser Viaduct in Graubünden, Switzerland
The Landwasser Viaduct is a six-arched limestone railway bridge built between 1901 and 1902. The 142 m-long and 65 m-high viaduct leads the Rhaetian railway line straight into a tunnel. Aside from its remarkable appearance, the viaduct also amazed architects as it did not have a wooden falsework, unlike its contemporaries. Instead, there were three central pillars lifted separately using a hoist, and two cranes connecting the pillars lifted up the stones mined from the valley.
Viaduct de Cize-Bolozon in France
The current Viaduct de Cize-Bolozon was built over the Ain Gorge in 1950 after the destruction of the older one during the Second World War. The two-story bridge carries a railway as well as vehicles of the valley.