Tembleque, Francisco de

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Franciscan who built the most magnificent aqueduct in colonial America; b. Tembleque, near Toledo, Spain, date unknown; d. Puebla, Mexico, 1589. He went to Mexico about 1540, and was sent to the town of Otumba. When he observed the terrible lack of water, he resolved to build an aqueduct, which was to be 34 kilometers long. He bored through the rock of the Tecajete hill and began a conduit about 30 kilometers long; the other four kilometers were formed of arches to cross three ravines, Amiltepec, Tepeyahualco, and another smaller one. In the Tepeyahualco he had to construct an aqueduct of 66 arches. The central arch had the incredible height of 38 meters (14 more than the central nave of the cathedral) and was 17 meters wide. It was necessary to make another arch in the middle of the high arch to reinforce it; it was also so high that the Oaxaca railroad later passed beneath it. The supporting pillars of the arches were 2.60 by 2.80 meters. They demonstrated great elegance and economy in the use of material, so that the aesthetic effect was extraordinary. The whole aqueduct was made of basalt, and it has been estimated that 10,000 square meters of stone were used. The centers of the arches were made of adobe, not wood. The construction took 17 years, from 1554 to 1571.

Bibliography: o. valdÉs, El padre Tembleque (Mexico City 1945). m. romero de terreros y vinent, Los acueductos de México en la historia y en el arte (Mexico City 1949).

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