Devil’s work: the legend of the aqueduct of Segovia

In Segovia, it is well known that the majestic aqueduct wasn’t built by the Romans. Legend has it that this impressive monument guarding the city was actually built by the Devil himself. It is said that he only needed a single night to finish his work – he pretended to steal the soul of a young local girl with it. More than twenty centuries have passed, but the story remains popular.

The legend of the aqueduct and its connection with the Devil

Once upon a time there was a city that lied at the foot of the mountains. Once upon a time there lived a girl who had to walk more than 16 kilometres everyday to get water from the nearest spring. It was a hard task, especially due to the city’s disposition. There always have been plenty of slopes in Segovia. The girl was tired of carrying her flagon throughout the steep streets, and one day she screamed into the void that she would sell her soul to the Devil in order to have water right by her house.

It didn’t take long for the Devil to appear in front of her eyes. He always takes every opportunity. They had a deal, he said. He would build the aqueduct she desired for and she would give him her soul in return as long as he built it in a single night. An aqueduct of more than 16 kilometres long, which would bring water to the whole city of Segovia, had to be ready for the next morning.

Aqueduct of Segovia.

Aqueduct of Segovia. | Shutterstock

So the Devil began to work. Thousands of tiny demons worked by his side, placing the enormous rocks without rest. A terrible storm took place and the demons were able to get every rock they needed. The tempest left a gift behind, the Siete Picos, a mountain formation of a very characteristic silhouette.

Having every rock they needed, they worked the whole night. Meanwhile, the girl kept praying. She had made a mistake and felt guilty – she didn’t want to give her soul to the Devil. She had been lazy, misled by laziness, she thought. So she prayed and prayed and made promises to Virgin Mary, who seems to have pitied her, since she made the sun shine before it was supposed to.

So the night ended ahead of time. Sunlight covered the streets and roosters sang their song, but the Devil wasn’t finished yet. A single rock prevented him from fulfilling his purpose, a single rock took the soul of the girl away from him. In the morning, the girl was still alive and Segovia had a new aqueduct. And the Devil run away, leaving his footprints behind.

What do people in Segovia say nowadays?

José Antonio Abella's sculpture of the Devil.

José Antonio Abella’s sculpture of the Devil. | Shutterstock

The legend remains untouched in the collective memory of Segovia, passed through generations, leaving aside the true story, the one regarding Romans. The story of a great empire that built this impressive monument of 30 metres high and 167 arches on its top with their bare hands. It extends throughout 16 kilometres from the mountains, carrying the water of the Fuenfría spring, the place where the water that Segovia has always drank is born. Built with layers and layers of granite ashlars and without any type of joint, this aqueduct sure is Devil’s work.

People in Segovia appreciate this Devil’s work and pay tribute to it. A sculpture of this mischievous character lies on top of one of the many steep streets, the San Juan street. Here you can enjoy the majesty of the most popular monument in the capital of Segovia. The Devil is taking a picture with its great work, and you can take one too, with both him and his aqueduct. 

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