The Carolino Aqueduct, the largest work of hydraulic engineering

Recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and defined as one of the most beautiful works of hydraulic engineering in the world, the Carolino Aqueduct was the work that, together with the Royal Palace of Caserta, sanctioned the great success of the architect Luigi Vanvitelli. He, with his ambitious project for the aqueduct, denied all the experts who had spoken against the plan, claiming it was impossible to transport the water for the very long stretch that started from the source of Fizzo and reached Caserta.

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History of the Carolino Aqueduct, symbol of the rebirth of Naples

As for the design and construction of the Aqueduct Carolino, Luigi Vanvitelli had full autonomy, thanks to the trust that the King Charles of Bourbon placed in his abilities. There was a need to build a new royal palace and to provide running water, but not only: the King wanted to amaze everyone with an exceptional construction, demonstrating the great return of Naples among the most important European cities.

Viaggiatori distratti

Carolino aqueduct, the project by Luigi Vanvitelli

Vanvitelli’s ambitious and perfectly realized project involved the construction of an arched aqueduct (of Roman inspiration) that could bring water from the springs of Fizzo to the Royal Palace of Caserta. Why an ambitious project? Of course, it would not have been easy to transport sloping water for about 39 kilometres or to deal with irregularities in the terrain. Yet, the aqueduct was built, complete with underground maintenance tunnels that are, to this day, accessible and passable.


The realization of the aqueduct took 16 years of work and, at the death of Luigi Vanvitelli, to take the reins of the works was his son Carlo, with the technical help of Francesco Collecini and Giovanni Patturelli. The cost for its construction was 705,826 ducats: if we wanted to make a comparison in euro, it would amount to a figure of about one million euros. A cost not too high if we think that the aqueduct was not made private but its benefits were extended to both provinces of Caserta and Benevento.

The route of the Carolino Aqueduct

Vanvitelli designed a workmanlike mechanism, no longer visible because buried. The idea was to carry the water that gushed from the springs of Fizzo, on Mount Taburno, for a journey of about 39 kilometers underground. In this way, the aqueduct would have started from Bucciano, in the province of Benevento, and headed towards the Valle dei Maddaloni, crossing the river Isclero through a bridge with five arches and heading towards Mount Garzano, through the viaduct of the Bridges of the Valley, formed by overlapping arches for more than 500 meters in length.

The Bridges of the Maddaloni Valley and the Garibaldi obelisk

I Bridges of the Valley are recognized as one of the most important works of art in the world, demonstrating that engineering and art can merge together and give amazing results. This is the part of the Vanvitellian pipeline that, at the time of its construction, represented the longest bridge in Europe.

You can visit this architectural spectacle taking part in organized walks and admire this work of art made of three orders of arches, overlapping each other, which extend for more than 500 meters. Next to the Bridges of the Valley we find the Garibaldi ossuary monument, built in memory of the battle of Volturno, fought between the Garibaldi volunteers and the army of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.


The aqueduct that feeds the Royal Palace of Caserta

The project for the construction of the Royal Palace of Caserta predates that of the aqueduct and was also entrusted to Luigi Vanvitelli by King Carlo of Bourbon. The work, begun by Luigi, was continued by his son Carlo and some followers and students of Vanvitelli. The amazing fountains of the Royal Palace of Caserta, inspired by classical mythology, are fed by the Vanvilletian aqueduct, designed specifically to constantly provide water to the Palace.

The architectural and artistic heritage of these two works of Vanvitelli is invaluable and absolutely to visit and admire, at least once in your life.

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