Today, on our virtual tour, I will take you to see the Gates of Moria. This is not Moria of the Dwarves, from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings (although I’d love to stand under one of those arches and say it with booming voice). No, these gates are in Moria, Lesvos (better known lately for its nearby refugee camp).
What are they really?
These tall arches are the remains of a Roman aqueduct, which carried water from the island’s highest peak, Olympus Mt (not the one the Greek gods lived on), to its capital, the city of Mytilene, on its eastern coast. The aqueduct carried about 127.000 cubic metres 4,484,963 ft3)of water to the city, along a 26 km (16-mile) route going through very difficult terrain.
A feat of engineering
The aqueduct’s unknown architect solved the numerous challenges on the way by means of bridges spanning several valleys, remnants of which can be seen along the route. Another wonder of engineering is an underground tunnel, about 1 km long (0.62 miles).
The arches of Moria
These arches are what’s left of the aqueduct’s longest bridge, with a span measuring 170 m (557.7) ft at the top, where the water flowed. At the centre of the valley its height is 24.5 m (80.03 ft); it has 17 arches, of which the central ones are three-tiered.
The aqueduct of Lesvos was constructed in the second half of the 2nd century AD. It is unclear what prevented the maintenance of such a useful piece of infrastructure, letting it gradually fall apart. Today, it is lost in a sea of olive trees.
Sources: Υπουργείο Πολιτισμού, Εφορεία Λέσβου
Air photo: Google maps