Industrial water heritage II: Our landscape

Discover some of the greatest treasures of the industrial water heritage in Catalonia, unique elements arranged like mosaic pieces throughout the entire country.

Dosrius acueduct remainsMuseu de les Aigües

The water revolution leaves behind an entire heritage legacy fully integrated into the different landscapes of our country. Buildings that characterize neighborhoods and infrastructure that leave their particular mark on rural environments.

"Industrial" Garden in Cornellà Power StationMuseu de les Aigües

Given the difficulties of the climate crisis and the increase of drought periods, it is necessary to recover lost memory and reclaim the awareness of the history of water in our country.

Knowing the relationship between water and territory, between water and the city, and think over it is a necessary instrument to face the challenges of our future.” (Albert Cuchí, 2011)

Many of the great works of hydraulic engineering are harmonized in perfect symbiosis with their environment and with the lives of people. Due to its monumentality and location, elements such as the Tibidabo Water Tower are very present in our imagination and daily life.

Others unique ones, such as the water tower in Granollers, do not go unnoticed either. Whether they are more or less known, they have all played a fundamental role in the history of tap water supply. Let's look at some of them.

Besòs Water TowerMuseu de les Aigües

1. Besòs Water Tower

The Besòs Water Tower is far from being just another element of the water infrastructure. Since its inauguration in 1882 it has distinguished itself as an important hallmark of the residents of Poblenou (Barcelona), bearing witness to their experiences, stories and roots.

Icària II, Josep Mª Subirachs, 2006, Original Source: Espai Subirachs
Mar Bella, Josep Mª Subirachs, 1980, Original Source: Espai Subirachs
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“Due to its formal beauty, it has been considered one of the most beautiful in Catalonia. Painted by artists such as Ramon Calsina, Josep M. Subirachs and Joan Pallarès, it has become a reference and inseparable element in the Poblenou landscape.” (Antoni Vilanova, 2012)

Acueduct of Biax Vallès in Nou Barris Central ParkMuseu de les Aigües

2. Baix Vallès aqueduct

A section of the Baix Vallès aqueduct is preserved in the middle of the Nou Barris Central Park, pedestrians walk and cross through it. Crossing Cerdanyola and Montcada, it carried water from the Ripoll River to the Barcelona neighborhood of Guinardó.

Acueduct of Biax Vallès in Nou Barris Central ParkMuseu de les Aigües

Located today as a decorative element, it remembers the feat of supplying the Catalan capital at a time of shortage.

3. Pedró water tank

The Pedró water tank, in Palamós, stands solemnly above the port, at the highest point of the municipality. Although it is currently disused, it survives over time along with the boys and girls who play at its feet.

The Pedró water tank, in Palamós, stands solemnly above the port, at the highest point of the municipality. Although it is currently disused, it survives over time along with the boys and girls who play at its feet.

Vallvidrera damMuseu de les Aigües

4. Vallvidrera reservoir dam

Considered a jewel of hydraulic engineering, the Vallvidrera reservoir dam was built by one of the most awarded Catalan architects of the late 19th century.

Elías Rogent, the one who carried out the reconstruction of the Ripoll church and who built the great historic building of the University of Barcelona, ​​was in charge of this work, as simple as beautiful and of great quality.

Water Tower of SabadellMuseu de les Aigües

5. Water tower of Sabadell

The grand water tower of Sabadell explains the history of this city and those who built it. It was done as a monumental response to the city's water supply crisis as consequence of its exponential population growth.

Interior of Sabadell Water TowerMuseu de les Aigües

Its great particularity stands out, as it is an art nouveau style construction, but with a great influence of German tradition, especially in the shape of the dome.

L'Oliva deposit, Mine of the ArchbishopOriginal Source: EMATSA

6. L'Oliva deposit

L'Oliva deposit dates back to the 18th century, during the first phase of industrialization. Still in operation, it is part of the kilometric supply system of the Mine of the Archbishop, which supplies approximately 3% of the city's water.

L'Oliva deposit, Mine of the ArchbishopOriginal Source: EMATSA

Although the construction of the system began at the end of the 18th century, the latest elements were incorporated the past century. It is an architectural jewel that keeps an astonishing continuity, as some sections even take advantage of the ancient Roman infrastructure.

Electric generators roomMuseu de les Aigües

7. Power Station of the "Sociedad General de Aguas de Barcelona"

The former Power Station of the Sociedad General de Aguas de Barcelona in Cornellà, in addition to being one of the greatest exponents of the industrial water heritage, has been the location of the AGBAR Aigües Museum since 2004.

Museu de les Aigües showcase (2021) by Museu de les AigüesMuseu de les Aigües

The Cornellà Power Station has become a meeting point between history, heritage, science, technology and nature, thus contributing to consolidating a more sensitive, fair, aware and sustainable society.

Hotel of insects in Cornellà Power StationMuseu de les Aigües

It houses projects such as the Butterfly Garden and the Insect Hotel, key to reinforce the inseparable connection that must exist between the history of urban water supply and the conservation of biodiversity in front of a challenging future.

Interior of Tibidabo Water TowerMuseu de les Aigües

Like the Cornellà Power Station, many of the infrastructures previously intended to capture, store, distribute and purify water in the past, continue today playing a relevant role for the community after the end of their service lifetime.

Claiming them as elements of great historical value for our community is an essential task. Recovering the memory of the past and giving them a cultural and civic dimension is part of the path to build a collective consciousness about water management.

SGAB Besòs Power StationMuseu de les Aigües

The industrial water heritage is part of our past, present and future. Its diachronic interpretation becomes one of the fundamental axes to lay the basis that allow us to overcome the challenges of tomorrow.

Can Nyac acueductMuseu de les Aigües

Do you want to learn more about the history of the industrial water heritage in Catalonia? Explore the first episode of this virtual exhibition:

Industrial Water Heritage I: How tap water came to our homes

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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