How was Venice built?


Last Updated on November 23, 2023 by Laura Teso

How was Venice built? Venice is an amazing and unique city. Its uniqueness is due not only to its artistic treasures and its history but mainly to its structure. It is in fact, as everyone knows, a city built on water, also called the Floating City.

But how was Venice built?

Venice was founded starting from the V century AD, when the inland populations resolved to seek shelter from the barbarian invasions (mostly Huns and Longobards). The Venetians moved therefore towards the lagoon, that was composed of many small islands (Venice is composed by about 120 islands connected by bridges). In order to build the city, they had to roll up their sleeves and strengthen the emerged land, which was muddy and unsuitable for construction of houses and buildings.

But how did they managed to do something like that? Well, the ingenious Venetians used millions of oak poles. They planted the poles in the ground until they reached the solid land under the mud layer. The space between the poles was filled with shards, stones and other waste materials. Over the layer of poles they put wooden boards that formed the base. Over these boards Venetians built their houses. Basically Venice is a huge pile dwelling. Impressive, uh?

Did you know that…

  • Since in the surroundings there were no forests, the Venetians gathered the wood in Croatia, Slovenia and Montenegro and then transported it by water.
  • The poles remained intact because there is no oxygen in the deep layers beneath the mud, so the rotting process could not be triggered.
  • The oak poles used to build Venice are more than 10 millions.
  • The Rialto Bridge only lies on about 30.000 wooden poles.
  • The Santa Maria Della Salute Church poles system required more than 1.100.000 wooden poles and more than 2 years of work.

If you want to learn more about Venice you can read my post Venice names and numbers.

Venice backstage video

Regarding this topic, I found a fantastic video, which explains everything easily. There are also explanation about the canals maintenance, acqua alta, and other Venice “features”.

It’s so odd to think about that while you’re walking in Venice! To know that an entire city is sustained by wooden poles submerged in water is astonishing. Did you have any idea?

Sources for my post at and

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