Venice, the city of canals. Stretching across 117 small islands, the city is most renown for it’s waterways, which create a labyrinth of tiny canals between buildings. What fascinates most visitors is the architecture, the buildings literally built atop the water. Perched on wooden piles, the buildings have withstood the tides and floods of the centuries and even to the untrained eye appear as architectural marvels. It may seem illogical to build on wooden piles, but below the surface of the water, where there is little oxygen, alder wood decomposes at a very slow rate.
Today however, Venice is undeniably losing the battle against the water. A series of industrial wells dug in the early 20th century began draining the aquifer below Venice, causing buildings to begin sinking. Although the wells are no longer in use, it’s unclear as to whether the damage can be undone. For now at least, it’s a losing battle.
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IF YOU GO: Venice is know for it’s beautiful art- from music and performances to incredible art and architecture. You can stay on the mainland (Mestre) and take a boat across, but it’s more atmospheric to find apartments in Venice for short term rent and soak in the ambiance. It’s not an inexpensive place though, a coffee on St. Marks square can set you back 10 euro.
Photo credit: Flickr user Danny Nicholson under a creative commons license.