Gozo Aqueduct – Kerċem, Malta - Atlas Obscura

Gozo Aqueduct

Kerċem, Malta

This 19th-century aqueduct provides insights into how water was supplied to Victoria on the island of Gozo before modern plumbing. 


During the decades that Malta was a colony of the United Kingdom, the British government built some extensive structures across the archipelago. One of the largest structures built by the British on the island of Gozo, Malta’s second largest island, was the Gozo Aqueduct. The aqueduct’s purpose was to transport water from Għar Ilma (which translates to “Cave of Water” in English) on a hill on the west side of the island to the Citadella in Rabat (Victoria) at the center of the island, where the water was then stored in a purpose-built central water reservoir.

This structure consists of a series of stone arches with a channel on top for transporting water. Uninformed tourists may, in fact, misattribute the construction of the aqueduct to the Roman Empire. The entire structure was built between 1839 and 1843, which was ahead of the time when modern pipes and electrical pumps were used to transfer water over large distances, which may explain why the structure seems to resemble an aqueduct from a much earlier period.

Once modern plumbing supplanted the aqueduct, the structure was allowed to decay and crumble, and several arches have collapsed. Over time, however, the aqueduct became an icon to the local populace. The government, recognizing the historical importance of the structure, has been taking steps since 2021 to stabilize and restore the aqueduct so that future generations may enjoy it.

Know Before You Go

 The aqueduct is located in open farmland to the west of Victoria (Rabat) on Triq Il-Papa Ġwanni Pawlu II, and one of the aqueduct’s arches crosses over the road. The location is about a 20-minute walk from the center of Victoria, and the road has sidewalks up to and through the aqueduct (although the sidewalks on Gozo are, in general, not necessarily wheelchair-accessible).

A couple of bus routes pass by the aqueduct, and a bus stop is located nearby. While the location is easily reached by car from Gozo, the road has no parking, so it is not possible for people driving cars to stop nearby to take time to look at the structure, although they can still enjoy the view when traveling to the west side of the island.

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