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The Aqueduct of Noain

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The Aqueduct of Noain

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The Aqueduct of Noain
The Navarrese people of the end of the 18th century could not give credit to seeing water run along the upper part of the very long succession of arches that miraculously brought drinkable water to the public fountains that Luis Paret had designed for the city of Pamplona. Like the famous river Guadiana, the water travelled in a hidden manner from the springs of Subiza, at the foot of the El Perdón mountain range, until it arrived at the southern side of the capital.

The royal architect Ventura Rodriguez was charged with the design and construction of the Aqueduct of Noain, and in 1790 this hydraulic, pharaonic and spectacular infrastructure of the age was inaugurated, channelling the water along around 16.5 kilometres.

Its most emblematic part is situated above a natural depression behind the town of Noain; it reaches a length of around 1,245 metres spanning 97 arches of stone and brick, of which today 94 are conserved, with columns of up to 18 metres in height and a canal at the top.

The English architect Street, a classic protagonist of Spanish Gothic, said that the Aqueduct of Noain "through its simplicity and the grandiosity of its design, deserves to figure amongst the most lovely in Europe".

The aqueduct that draws the attention of travellers approaching Pamplona from the south was raised and constructed between 1783 and 1790, even though it has not been used as an aqueduct for several years. In 1859 the construction of the Pamplona-Castejón railway line made it necessary to sacrifice one of the pillars, and currently the trains to Madrid and Barcelona cross under it. Furthermore, with the construction of the Autopista de Navarra in 1971, two complete arches of the final section were eliminated. Nowadays the aqueduct is conserved in an unequal state, even though it has undergone over a dozen renovations in the last few decades.

The construction project that was originally entrusted to the French engineer Francisco Genci in 1774 was finally realized by Ventura Rodriguez, the very same architect who was commissioned to build the current neoclassical façade of Pamplona Cathedral. In August of 1782 the study, report, and the twelve plans of the work were delivered, which involved the technical direction of Francisco Alejo Aranguren and Santos Angel de Ochandategui. Its total cost was around 300,000 pesos.

The Aqueduct of Noain is longer than one perceives from the road. It starts in the springs of Subiza and ends in Pamplona, crossing other open areas through the municipalities of Tajonar, Badostáin and Mendillorri. The section that links Noain with Tajonar is underground, bored through the Tajonar mountain range of Tajonar for one kilometre, and is ventilated by eight entrances, the deepest of these being some 68 metres down. It exits at ground level in a gully near Noáin, in a section of approximately 580 metres in length by 5 metres high, sustained in its central part by 12 stone arches. Arriving at the hill on which Tajonar is built; the aqueduct submerges itself again underground for around 300 metres and reappears at the boundary with Zolina. It is here that it shows its final elevated position for some few metres, before returning again to ground level in Badostáin, near Pamplona.
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