Reservatório da Patriarcal

Water Museum - Patriarchal Reservoir - Praça de D. Pedro V Reservoir

Useful Information

Location: Praça do Príncipe Real, 1250-184 Lisboa.
(38.716173, -9.148729)
Open: All year Sat, Sun 10-17:30, last entry 17.
Closed for maintenance until DEC-2020.
Fee: Adults EUR 1, Children (13-16) EUR 0.50, Children (0-12) free.
Classification: SubterraneaCistern
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: V=884 m³.
Guided tours:  
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Reservatório da Patriarcal, Praça do Príncipe Real, 1250-184 Lisboa, Tel: +351-218100215. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1856 designed by French engineer Louis-Charles Mary as part of the project to supply water to Lisbon.
1860 beginning of construction.
1864 cistern completed.
1890 Alviela Aqueduct completed.
1919 first museum created by the Companhia das Águas de Lisboa.
1940s reservoir closed.
1987 permanent collection of the Water Museum finally set up.
1990 Water Museum awarded the Council of Europe prize.
1994 exhibition of the Water Museum installed.


The Reservatório da Patriarcal (Patriarchal Reservoir) is a huge cistern which is located below the Jardim do Príncipe Real, a park locagated in the ecenter of Lisbon, just south of the Jardim Botânico de Lisboa. The park is actually a result of the construction of the cistern, which was built below ground, covered by a roof at surface level. Obviously it was not intended to erect buildings on top of the cistern, a park is the logical solution.

In old times people gathered water from well or springs, typically carrying the water home in buckets. In the 19th century many cities started to build drink water systems which would provide enough water for rapidly growing cities. In Lisbon this system was designed by the French engineer Louis-Charles Mary in 1856. The realisation took a decade and included the construction of channels, pipes, wells and reservoirs. One of those reservoirs is the Patriarchal Reservoir which was fuelled by Águas Livres Aqueduct. From 1890 this aqueduct was replaced by the modern Alviela Aqueduct. The cistern has an octagonal shape, which is mirrored in the shape of the fountain in the park above.

The cisterns main function was the regulation of the pressure between the Arco Reservoir (in Rua das Amoreiras) and the lower part of the city. The water comes downhill but enters the cistern through the floor. The pressure is high enough to push it up through four pipes into the octagonal lake on the surface and create a fountain. This was not only a nice sight but also aerated the water before it entered the cistern. From the lake it was flowing back into the cistern. This also had the purpose to get rid of the pressure, the elevation of the cistern was optimal to produce the right pressure in the pipes of the lower part of the city.

From the cistern three underground galleries start. The first one on the east wall was named the galeria do Loreto and transported water to the Reservatório do Arco. The second gallery is located below the first and was used for the supply of Rua da Alegria. The third gallery starts from the wall on the western side towards Rua de S. Marçal and supplied the western part of Lisbon.

As watter support continually changes and is modernized, the reservoir finally became obsolete in the late 1940s. It was unused for decades, but finally it was restored and became a part of the Museu da Água (Water Museum). It is now part of the museum which opens it regularly and offers guided tours for free. The Water Museum also has a long history, first created by the Companhia das Águas de Lisboa in 1919 and collecting water related heritage. But there actually never was a real museum building until 1987, when the permanent exhibition was finally opened in the Barbadinhos Steam Pumping Station. The reservoir is part of the museum since 1994. The museum is actually distributed on four sites: the Águas Livres Aqueduct, the Mãe d’Água das Amoreiras Reservoir, the Patriarcal Reservoir, and the Barbadinhos Steam Pumping Station. Since 2013 the main exhibition at Barbadinhos Steam Pumping Station was closed for refurbishment works and increasing accessibility of the industrial heritage site. It is currently open only by appointment [2020].