Aqueduct

Pipes under the mosaic floor ot the Eirene Mansion, which fed the house founatain with waterPipes under the mosaic floor ot the Eirene Mansion, which fed the house founatain with water

Roman Philippopolis was a thirsty city. Every day two grand aqueducts brought to it about 43,000 cubic meters of fresh Rhodope water, covering a total distance of 30 kilometers. Some parts of the aqueducts ran on massive brick-and-stone pillars 6-8 metres high. Other part of their courses was underground. There was also an additional water main, about five kilometers long.


But the citizens of Philippopolis didn't know and didn't want to know how their water supply system worked. They wanted their water immediately, and they got it. The Dzhendem Tepe reservoir was set in motion and water ran again. The men in the baths did their final shower, the people in the taverns got clean dishes, the slaves returned home with full and heavy pots of water and the girls in the luxurious senator's house renewed their game.

The traces of the elaborate water supply system of Roman Philippopolis are still visible in and around the city today, about 1,500 years after it fell into disrepair.

The two aqueducts which brought water from springs in the modern villages of Kuklen and Markovo, in the Rhodope, are the most spectacular ones. Their mighty remains – even the catchments are well preserved - run from the mountains northwards to the city. At the modern-day Komatevo neighborhood, their courses draw so close to each other, that a mere 30-40 metres divide them.

A significant part of the western aqueduct has been preserved so well that in the 1980s it was easily reconstructed. You can see it on Komatevsko Shose Street, towering over the busy city traffic.

The aqueducts were built in the 2nd-3rd centuries and were probably abandoned in the middle of the 5th century.

Some historians claim that the aqueducts merged into a main pipe that entered the city. Others suggest that they came into the city separately. Whatever the truth, they brought water at a single place, the great reservoir at the acropolis. From there, ceramic pipes distributed the water southwards through the city. The system was making use of the natural slope of the terrain, most of the pipes were discovered under the cardines, the streets that run from north to south. Some of the pipes, however, were also discovered under the decumani, the streets that went from east to west.