Thursday, May 19, 2011

Aqueduct over Alcantara Valley

This aqueduct was one of the systems built to bring water to Lisbon.  It began carrying water in 1748, and remained standing through the great earthquake and tidal wave that destroyed most of the city in 1755.  Prior to the quake, builders had been excoriated for what was seen as excessive use of iron in the construction, which added considerably to the cost.  After the earthquake, nobody seemed to mind.

In addition to carrying water, the structure provided a pedestrian bridge over the Alcantara Valley, which runs down to the Tagus River Estuary on the western side of the city.  It was this capacity that provided a hunting ground for what may be Portugal's first serial killer.  Diogo Alves, a Spaniard, managed to acquire a key to the interior of the aqueduct, where he would conceal himself until unsuspecting victims happened by.  He would spring upon them, rob them, and throw their bodies over the side.  He killed 76 people in the summer of 1837, 4 of them from a single family.  Authorities first thought they were confronted by an extraordinary number of suicides, but eventually they caught on.  Alves was hanged in 1841, and his head is preserved in a jar in the Museum of Medicine in Lisbon.

2 comments:

Ran said...

Linked at TRG!

Steven Givler said...

Thanks Ran!