Morelia Aqueduct Water Box – Morelia, Mexico - Atlas Obscura

Morelia Aqueduct Water Box

This feature of the city's aqueduct has achieved numismatic fame thanks to its appearance on Mexican banknotes. 


The F and F1 series of the Mexican 50 pesos banknotes is known for its pink hues and features that represent the state of Michoacán. With José María Morelos (namesake of the city of Morelia) on the front, the water box belonging to the city’s aqueduct graces the back of the note, complete with monarch butterfly designs throughout. The bill is one of Mexico’s most popular. 

The aqueduct itself is an 18th century public infrastructure project that was functional until 1910. The water box depicted on the bill was constructed out of the same pink Cantera stone as the rest of the aqueduct. It originally functioned somewhat as a filter for the aqueduct’s water, allowing heavy sediment to settle at the bottom. The water box is such a known fixture that Morelia tram tours reach it as their Eastern terminus before looping back to the historic center.

The F and F1 series of banknotes are notable for their designs based on Mexican states. The $20 and $50 were also Mexico’s first polymer bills. The F series first entered circulation in 2006 and started being replaced by the G series in 2019. The G series will abandon the states theme and begin portraying historical Mexican periods on the front and ecosystems on the reverse.

While the G series MXN $50 design has not yet been revealed as of January 2020, its Pre-Columbian period/freshwater ecosystem theme will not include the water box. With this banknote expected to start circulation in 2022, only a few years remain to capture a photo with this iconic landmark and the note bearing its likeness.

Know Before You Go

While you can walk to the water box from the city's historic center, most of the way is past residential neighborhoods. Tram tours departing from the center are a good option as most of them will include the water box as part of the itinerary, even at night.

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