Ancient Rome had an enormous need for water because of its large thermal complexes and numerous bathhouses - once more than eight hundred. In ancient times, there were eleven aqueducts that carried water from Lake Bracciano (fifty kilometers north of Rome) and from the mountains to the city.

The oldest water pipe to Rome dates from circa 312 BC. and ran underground. She was created by the censor Appius Claudius, whose name still lives on in the Via Appia. Extensive remains of a later aqueduct, the Aqua Claudia, have survived. It was completed in 52 AD. completed by order of Emperor Claudius and was sixty-nine kilometers long, of which fifteen kilometers ran above ground. The current Porta Maggiore was part of it. The shortest two Roman aqueducts were the Aqua Appia with 16.6 kilometers and the Aqua Tepula with eighteen kilometers. The so-called "Aqua Virgo" passed where the Trevi Fountain is now and was built by Agrippa for its thermal baths at the Pantheon. It was 21.2 kilometers long.