The Medieval Aqueduct in Sulmona

I am fond of visiting Sulmona. Despite of its ancient origins and glorious past, Sulmona has a rather modern and dynamic look. Its ancient streets are always full of local residents and tourists, taking pictures, sitting in outside cafes or shopping.

Quite a lot of ancient buildings which belong to different epochs  and styles have survived in Sulmona. And perhaps the most impressive one is a very well preserved medieval aqueduct.

The aqueduct was built in 1256 during the reign of Manfred, son of Swedish King Frederick II. The construction consists of 21 lancet arches made of hewn stone. The aqueduct is about 100 meters long. Some of its pillars are hidden under the wide staircase connecting the Garibaldi Piazza and Corso Ovidio.

The aqueduct is not only the main architectural sight of the city, but a rather complex engineering structure. In the Middle Ages the aqueduct regularly supplied with water two small mills, spinning mills, craft shops and workshops of the city. Residents of the city used water for domestic needs and for watering gardens and orchards, which were situated within the city walls.

In 1474 at the northern end of the aqueduct was built a fountain in the Renaissance style. The entablature of the fountain is richly decorated with stucco and crowned by a semicircular facade, which depicts a coat of arms of the Aragonese dynasty. A stream of water falls from a head of a bearded man, who in the past considered to be an image of Solimo, the legendary founder of the city. Local residents use to call the fountain “an old man” (Fontana del Vecchio) because of the word “Vecchio” which is engraved near the mysterious head. Even today the fountain boasts with pure ice-cold water, which is particularly refreshing on a hot summer day.


10 Responses to “The Medieval Aqueduct in Sulmona”

  1. Love the image and your writing. Thanks for the great info – I just visited Sulmona in September 2013 and fell in love with the city and the surrounding country side.

  2. You can read about Lanciano in this blog. If you are passionate about the Middle Ages, Abruzzo is the right place to travel!

  3. Wonderful bit of history! Lived in Sulmona for a month last summer while participating in an opera festival in the city. What an unbelievable experience; not only to sing opera in its native land, but also to just live in rural Italy.

  4. I really enjoyed learning about the Sulmona’s acqueduct and the ‘fontanone’ or fontana del vecchio. My parents and grandparents were born in Sulmona and I am not sure that even they knew much about the history of these architectural gems. I feel such a strong connection to Sulmona, having been brought over by my parents when I was just a year old and having been back there many times since, that I almost consider it home more than the city where I was born and currently live. Thank you for the history in this article!

    • Dear Lena, thank you very muh for your kind and encouraging words. I’m really happy that you’ve known something new about your fav city from my blog. If you are interested in Abruzzo and Italia, in general, I’ll be very glad if you visit my other blog ‘Mediaeval walks’ at
      Have a nice weekend!

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