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Zempoala, Hidalgo (Mexico)

Municipio de Zempoala

Last modified: 2019-11-30 by juan manuel gabino villascán
Keywords: mexico | hidalgo | zempoala |
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Presentation of Zempoala

The municipality of Zempoala (45,382 inhabitants in 2015, 6,798 in the town of Zempoala proper; 31,987 ha) is located on the border with the State of Mexico, 30 km south of Pachuca de Soto.

Ivan Sache, 24 April 2019.

2016-2020 municipal government flag of Zempoala

[Flag of the Municipal Government of Zempoala (2016-2020)]
Image by Ivan Sache 24 April 2019.

The flag of Zempoala is white with the municipal logo, which represents the Aqueduct of Padre Tembleque. [Photo]

The "Aqueduct of Padre Tembleque Hydraulic System" was inscribed in 2015 on the UNESCO's World Heritage list, with the following description:

"The aqueduct of Padre Tembleque, named after the friar Francisco de Tembleque, was constructed between 1555 and 1572 and constitutes a hydraulic system located between the states of Mexico and Hidalgo in the Mexican Central Plateau. The heritage canal system encompasses its water catchment area, springs, main and secondary canals, distribution tanks, arcaded aqueduct bridges, reservoirs and other auxiliary elements, which extend over a maximum distance of 48.22 kilometres. The aqueduct structures were built with supporting structures of earthen adobes in the Mesoamerican construction tradition, but at the same time referencing European models of water conduction developed during the Roman era.
The hydraulic system is an outstanding example of water conduction in the Americas and integrates along its 48 kilometres’ extent impressive architectural structures, such as the main arcaded aqueduct at Tepeyahualco, which reaches a total height of 39.65m, with its central arch of 33.84 m height. The system was built by Franciscan friars with support from the local communities and as a result is a unique representation of the ingenious fusion of Mesoamerican and European construction traditions, combining the mestizo tradition with the tradition of Roman hydraulics. As an ensemble of canals and auxiliary structures, the system is exceptionally well-preserved and one branch remains operational up until today.
Since it is the complexity of the system and the human exchange which created it which contribute to the Outstanding Universal Value, all features of this hydraulic system, including springs, main and secondary canals, distribution tanks, several arcaded aqueduct bridges, reservoirs and other auxiliary elements, are attributes documenting this exceptional construction. The elaborate techniques and cultural exchanges become specifically visible in the mastery of the monumental arcade bridging the Tepeyahualco Ravine and the Papalote River, which is made up of 68 round arches.

The Aqueduct of Padre Tembleque Hydraulic Complex retains the complete hydraulic system over a distance of approximately 48 kilometres. Its landscape setting is predominantly rural characterized by distinctive maguey plantations, with the canal system either historically buried or enclosed in stone, either open or covered. The six impressive aqueduct bridges with 137 visible arches represent less than five percent of the total hydraulic system and hence the presence of all auxiliary elements of the system is a key to its integrity." unesco.

Little is known on the biography of Padre Tembleque. A record of the Franciscan Province of New Spain published in 1570 by Gerónimo de Mendieta mentions "Friar Francisco de Tembleque, 60 years old, confessor of the Spaniards and Indians and preacher in Mexican language". Following he use of the time, he was named in religion for his patron saint, St. Francis of Assisi, and his birthplace, Tembleque (Province of Toledo, Castilla-La Mancha, Spain). He settled in the Indian village of Otumba with another Franciscan friar, Juan de Romanones. Mendieta explains that Otumba; located in a semi-desert area, lacked freshwater; accordingly, the colonist's cattle drank water from the natives' well, which contaminated it. Rather than banning cattle from the well, Tembleque decided to bring freshwater from remote areas. The chronicler adds that the aqueduct could not have been built without miraculous intervention; during the five years of building, a cheetah brought every morning to the workers rabbits and quails he had chased during the night; Mendieta certifies the miracle, which he witnessed himself. In spite of the opposition of the colonial and religious authorities, which believed that the aqueduct would never bring water to Otumbe because of the topography, Tembleque was successful in bringing water taken from several sources located at the foot of Mount Tecajete (2,890 m). Three wells from the 16th century can still be seen near the village of Santa María Tecajete. The building of the complete hydraulic system required at least 17 years, while five years were needed to erect the aqueduct crossing the Tepeyahualco ravine. The aqueduct is represented on the map part of the "Relación Geográfica de Zempoala", published in 1580. It was subsequently described by several travelers and used until 1800. Alain Musset. El acueducto de Zempoala: las respuestas de fray Francisco de Tembleque. 1989. Historias 19, 81-96

Ivan Sache, 24 April 2019.

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