The cataracts were commissioned by Stephen Habsburg-Lorraine I Grand Duke of Tuscany and designed by Leonardo Ximenes on the occasion of his reclamation of Lake Bientina, which began in 1757.
Leonardo Ximenes was a renowned scientist, mathematician, engineer, plumber, astronomer and a careful scholar who respected the hydrogeological nature of the land and the natural ecosystem.
The Ximenian Sluices, located in Via dei Due Ponti in San Giovanni alla Vena, were designed to control the flow of water from Lake Bientina into the River Arno through the Serezza Vecchia and Canale Imperiale canals, the latter opened by Ximenes himself.
Until about 1860, the large Canale Imperiale, an effluent of Lake Bientina, passed under the arches of the palazzo, continued under the bridge in front of it and flowed into the River Arno. The ground floor of the palace preserves, high up in the darkness of the ceiling, gigantic hydraulic gears made of oak wood, the only historical-scientific evidence of high hydraulic engineering of the time that remains in Italy. A system of cataracts that had to regulate the waters of the Arno during flooding with respect to the water from Lake Bientina that flowed into it.