Home 5 What to see 5 Looking back 5 Acueducto Romano. Albarracín – Cella

Acueducto Romano. Albarracín – Cella


The Roman aqueduct, which started near Albarracín and reached Cella, is undoubtedly one of the most important hydraulic public works in the Iberian Peninsula, built in the 1st century AD.

The construction of the Aqueduct

The construction of a great public work such as the aqueducts required a great deal of logistical organisation. For this purpose, Rome created a specific body of officials known as the familia publica aquarum. This body was made up of engineers (mensores aedificiorum), surveyors (mensores), administrative and treasurers (scribes), criers (praecones), foremen (libratores), plumbers (plumbarii) and public slaves (servos publicos).

First of all, the topographer and his assistants calculated the most suitable route and the general difference in level between the catchment area and the storage or supply area.

In this aqueduct from Albarracín to Cella, the great distance between the two ends and the orographic complexity of the terrain must have complicated this work considerably, designing a route that takes advantage of the contour lines as far as possible.

After designing and marking out the route of the aqueduct on the ground, the work had to begin simultaneously at several points along the route, with several teams set up in work camps along the route. The foremen, or libratores, were in charge of the workers, free craftsmen and specialised slaves, as well as the materials, pack animals, supplies, tools and the payment of wages.

The precision of the various connections is a clear example of the level reached by Roman engineers.

The Albarracín – Gea – Cella aqueduct

This aqueduct, which is almost 25 kilometres long, initially runs alongside the Guadalaviar river, from which it takes its water, with a conduit that connects the galleries excavated in the rock with open-air channels.

Near the present-day town of Gea de Albarracín, the aqueduct goes underground, with a gallery that sometimes runs 60 metres deep and surfaces again as it approaches Cella.

For its construction, 9 kilometres of galleries were excavated, with almost a hundred ventilation shafts. In total, it has been calculated that approximately 50,000 m3 of rock were evacuated. The aqueduct had an average gradient of three per thousand, with an abundant flow of around 300 litres per second.

Its purpose was to supply water to the urban centre of the Roman city that existed, from the 1st century BC, in what is now Cella, although given its significant flow, other uses related to craft installations (fulling mills, forges or mills) cannot be ruled out.

It is not known for how long this aqueduct may have been in use, although it is certain that it was not in operation at the time of the Christian conquest of Cella, as indicated by the search for and discovery of the present-day spring. After the aqueduct was abandoned, the sections dug out of the mountain were used as shelters for shepherds and farmers and as animal dens.

Visit to the aqueduct

Along the entire route of the aqueduct there are 8 sections adapted for visits, where interpretation tables have been set up to provide information on the characteristics and construction techniques of the Albarracín – Gea – Cella aqueduct.

These sections are:

Section I: Azud del albergue de Albarracín. In this section you can see the area from where the aqueduct took water from the Guadalaviar river, although the current weir is not Roman.

Section II: Gallery of mirrors and tunnel, near the castle of Santa Croche. In this area you can walk along part of the aqueduct excavated in the rock.

Section III: Gea de Albarracín weir. The aqueduct is excavated in the rock, parallel to the large existing rock cut. Numerous ventilation windows (lumica) can be seen at regular intervals.

Section IV: Los Burros Ravine. At this point, of great scenic beauty, the aqueduct runs through the rock, making a dramatic turn to cross the ravine and follow the contour line.

Section V: Cañada de Monterde and Las Hoyas. The aqueduct is still underground. In this section the enormous ventilation shafts or putei, sometimes very deep, stand out.

Section VI: La Tejería. After the last two wells, the aqueduct comes out into the open air.

Section VII: Las Eras de Cella. The aqueduct continues to run in the open air, now close to Cella.

Section VIII: The town centre of Cella. There is an explanatory panel in the town’s main square.ro Acueducto romano “Gea – Cella”

Sendero Acueducto romano “Gea – Cella”

Distance: 9,5 Km

Approximate time: 2 h 30′.

Difficulty: medium

Activities: hiking, mountain biking and equestrian tourism.

Recommendations: it is important to bring good shoes and water.

    This path, which follows the route of the aqueduct from Gea de Albarracín to Cella, shows us some of the most interesting stretches discovered so far.

    It starts from Gea along the track that leaves next to the cemetery and takes us to the spot known as the Cañada de Monterde, where the aqueduct begins its route at a considerable depth. Here we find some very well preserved galleries, which have been fitted out for a visit.

    From this point the path ascends between the pits or vertical holes that gave air to the deep galleries until it reaches the last of these. Here it starts to descend, passing through fields of crops, until it reaches a secondary track and shortly afterwards a main track that we take to the right. After walking for 50 metres, we turn left into a cereal-growing area.

    We follow the path, guided by the signs, and pass in front of the Espliegar grazing land until we reach the remains of two pits of the Roman aqueduct, where a small panel explains how it works. In a few minutes, following the track, we reach the Tejería fountain, which provides us with fresh water in an area where we can rest or eat.

    From there, we leave the track and continue along the Muñeca watercourse, which in less than 2 km brings us to several stretches of open-air aqueduct. Finally, we arrive at a rest area with a small covered area. From here, there are only a few metres left to reach Cella, entering through the same place as the aqueduct, that is to say, through the threshing floors and their haystacks. This is a very interesting space as an example of different types of construction using the rammed earth technique.

     + More information