It's hard to imagine, but many structures in Venice today are still standing on 1000-year-old wood piles! Venice, on the other hand, began sinking as soon as it was established. The weight of the city pulled down on the dirt and muck that it was constructed on from the start, squeezing out water and compacting the earth. By the 17th century, there were signs that the soil was becoming thin underneath parts of the city.
The problem grew worse over time. As Venice became more prosperous, it attracted people who wanted to live there, but didn't have any land themselves. So they bought up property near the lagoon and had them transported to shore, where they built small houses on top. After a few years, when those buildings proved profitable, they did it again and again until there were hundreds of these "superblocks" sitting on pilings.
This is how most of Venice's center was built: by piling money up ahead of time, then hiring builders to construct homes out of wood that would later be replaced with brick or stone. It's amazing that so much architecture survived given the conditions under which it was built.
As soon as a house was built on pilings, it started draining water into the lagoon, which caused problems for people who owned property near these new drains. The city officials tried to fix this by putting in pipes and building new streets, but it wasn't enough.
On top of these stakes, they erected wooden platforms and later stone, which is what Venice's structures are built on. Due to the lack of forest in the lagoon, this wood had to be supplied on a large scale by boat from wooded areas that are now portions of modern Montenegro, Slovenia, and Croatia.
In addition to the stake boats used by builders, there were also small boats with sails that were used for transportation purposes. These were usually converted from existing fishing boats so they would not waste time while being loaded. When not in use, they were stored ashore.
The first evidence of timber being used in Venice dates back to ad 838 when the city was struck by a severe earthquake. The damage was so great that it must have been considerable for it to cause such extensive destruction after so few years. The city was rebuilt using new materials for construction purposes including timber. This is why we see so many ruins under the water today. After all, if no one visits these sites, what good are they?
As time went by, more and more buildings were constructed out of timber because it was much cheaper than brick or stone. By the 16th century, nearly all of Venice's public buildings were made of wood. Even the famous Doge's Palace was built primarily of timber. By the late 15th century, the amount of wood used in Venice each year was enough to build two ships of 1000 tons each!
How did Venice come to be? Venice is nicknamed as the "Floating City" because its structures appear to rise directly from the ocean. The city was built on a marshy location that had over a hundred tiny islands and marshlands in between. As the population of Venice increased, they began to build more and more houses, which caused their island to disappear under ground level!
Nowadays, many parts of Venice are below sea level and it's not uncommon to see boats driving through certain streets. The only part of Venice that's above water all year round is the San Marco district, which is why most tourists visit that area of the city.
However, not everyone who lives in Venice can afford a house there. Many people live in old buildings or even have tents placed near the shores of the city. In fact, there are even homeless people living in the canals of Venice!
Most people think that Venice has always been this way but it isn't true. Venice has changed shape several times in its history. After being attacked by pirates, soldiers, and invaders multiple times, the people of Venice decided to protect their city by building a large wall around it. They also created a system of canals and bridges inside the wall so anyone attacking the city would have to pass these obstacles first.