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The Albear Aqueduct, a marvel of civil engineering in Cuba.
Considered one of the seven wonders of Cuban civil engineering and possessor of the status of National Monument, the Albear Aqueduct stands as an important work of universal engineering in the 19th century.
It is considered the most important of the colonial period in Cuba and until today it is in operation and supplies five municipalities in Havana, capital of the Caribbean island.
It was inaugurated on January 23, 1893, with the name of Albear Aqueduct, in honor of its creator, to whom a well-deserved monument was erected two years later.
The construction of the work lasted approximately thirty years, but in reality part of that time was stopped by the Ten Years War, which began in Cuba in 1868 to fight against Spanish colonialism, in addition to some economic reasons.
The work was selected by the National Union of Architects and Construction Engineers of Cuba, UNAICC, as one of the Seven Wonders of Engineering of that nation.
Due to its heritage values, the Historic Aqueduct System of the city of Havana, which includes the Royal Ditch, the Fernando VII Aqueduct and the Albear Aqueduct, was declared a National Monument of the Republic of Cuba. This happened on January 9, 2009 in commemoration of the 193 anniversary of Albear’s birthday.
Water supply has always been a problem in Cuba since the Spanish colonization and this characteristic influenced the location of the settlements.
In San Cristóbal de la Habana, for example, it was finally located near the bay. The adjacent wells and rivers, the Zanja Real and the Fernando VII Aqueduct, constituted other sources of water that were used but were not sufficient as the population grew. This is how the idea of building an aqueduct to solve the problem arose.
The colonel of engineers Francisco de Albear and Fernández de Lara was in charge of presenting a Report on the Project for the conduction to Havana of the waters of the Vento springs. This occurred in 1855.
It projected the closed masonry aqueduct system, which would carry the waters of these springs by gravity to their final destination, eleven kilometers away.
Before, Albear studied the antecedents and all the possibilities of taking advantage of the previous aqueducts. He also made the calculation of the water the city needed and made an assessment of the difficulties in achieving the catchment work in Vento. Finally, he proposed the layout of the canal to the reservoir.
Interesting facts of the Albear Aqueduct
Among the curious aspects that stand out of the Albear Aqueduct are that in the Palatino tanks all the water needed for a day of consumption fits, the water comes from around 400 springs located in Vento and contributes to the capital 13% of its consumption. In addition, it does not require pumping and in all its years of service it has sent 7,500.5 million cubic meters of water without pumping to Havana.
Francisco de Albear and Lara.
Francisco de Albear y Lara was a Cuban engineer. His talent led him to carry out more than 50 projects, some of them awarded, and member or director of different academic and government organizations.
Albear held various positions both in Cuba and in other countries. He was Vice President of the Superior Board of Instruction, Corresponding Member of the Royal Academy of Sciences of Madrid and the Academy of Medical, Physical and Natural Sciences of Havana.
He held the presidency of the Section of Physical and Natural Sciences, in addition to being part of different organizations and societies around the world.