Los Arquitos • Colonial Stone Aqueduct • (A)
In the early 1500s, the first Spanish settlers, needing a reliable source of water, tapped the ample spring at the base of the mountains to the north, now the suburb of San Felipe del Agua, and channeled the water to the city in a crude canal. In mid-1700s, the city replaced the canal with a more permanent stone aqueduct, known as Los Arquitos. The aqueduct supplied water to the city until 1941, when steel pipes were laid to replace it.
Today, long strips of the aqueduct remain wholly intact, along with shorter, partial fragments. The most impressive surviving strip begins three blocks northwest of the Santo Domingo Church, running north along cobblestone García Vigil Street (which turns into Rufino Tamayo) for about three hundred meters, and ends abruptly at the busy six-lane Niños Heroes highway. Here, the aqueduct is a series of arches facing east, hence the name Los Arquitos, its channel inlaid along the top of the arches, well overhead and not easily seen.
Across Niños Heroes lies the tranquil Barrio de Xocomilco, its streets filled with the thumping of wooden handlooms — the rhythmic sounds of weavers working. Here, other, smaller fragments of the aqueduct have survived, mostly for about a kilometer along quiet cobblestone José López Alavés Street (due north of Rufino Tamayo), including the northernmost fragment in the barrio, an intact piece of the aqueduct spanning the Jalatlaco River, held up by a series of arches.
Continuing north along José López Alavés, that’s it for the next kilometer or so until the street ends where Porfirio Díaz turns into the main road to San Felipe del Agua. From there, for the next couple of kilometers, long, intact strips of the aqueduct line the road to San Felipe del Agua, ending just south of the San Felipe Apóstol Church.
- Southernmost remnant begins on García Vigil, a half-block north of Humboldt; North of Iglesia de Santo Domingo, Centro Histórico.