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The Floating City

ASAG Journal

Art & History Guest Writers

The story of Venice, Italy begins in the 5th century AD after the fall of the Roman Empire as northern barbarians had been raiding Rome’s former territories. To escape such raids, some mainland people moved to nearby marshes and found refuge on the sandy islands of Torcello, Iesolo & Malamocco.


The ‘Floating City’ includes a 118 small islands connected by numerous canals and bridges and the buildings were not directly built on the islands, but rather upon platforms that were supported by stakes driven deep into the ground. And so the massive wooden platforms were constructed on top of wooden stakes and then the buildings were constructed upon them.

A 17th century book explains the details of the construction procedure and demonstrates the amount of wood required just for the stakes. For example, the Santa Maria Della Salute church was built on 1,106,657 wooden stakes. This particular process took over two years to complete. The wood had to be obtained from the forests of Croatia and Montenegro, then transported to Venice via water. Thus, one can imagine the scale of this undertaking.

Venice eventually became a great maritime power in the Mediterranean. For instance, in 1204, Venice allied itself with the Crusaders and succeeded in capturing the Byzantine capital, Constantinople. Nevertheless, Venice started to decline in the 15th century, and was eventually captured by Napoleon in 1797 when he invaded Italy.


The Floating City

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