There are many questions surrounding the city of Venice and it's seemingly miraculous landscape. A floating city, Venice was founded in 421 AD by a group of Celtic people called the Veneti. However, the northeast coast of Italy looked nothing of what it does now and was only marshland and a lagoon in which 124 islands existed. It wasn't until 453 when Attila the Hun invaded Italy, prompting people to flee to the coast where Venice now sits. Over time, the region of Italy continued to be the subject of political - and actual - warfare, with threats from the Franks, the Turks, and even the Black Death, with the hands of those who controlled Venice changing as the years went on. During all of these years, Venice continued to bounce back and eventually flourished during the 19th century as a trading port.
While Venice remains a popular destination for tourists - especially those seeking a romantic getaway - not many know the history behind how, and why, the city came to be. Venice wasn't always the floating city and the process of creating it was done by man, not nature, since turning it into one of the most fascinating cities in the world.
Creating The Canals That Run Through Venice
The process to build Venice was one that was far from simple. There were natural conditions that both hindered and help the building of this great city, much of which was simply luck and coincidence. For starters, two things needed to happen: The first half of the battle was transporting materials since there were no solid trees that grew in the marshlands that once existed in the place of Venice. The second half of the battle was finding materials that were sturdy and stable enough to hold up the city which was, surprisingly, not that tough.
Before any of that could take place, though, canals needed to be dug in order to make way for the city that would sit atop them. It's much easier to imagine digging a canal in today's world with the help of large machinery and mechanical arms to do much of the work but back then, the process was much longer and far more taxing. In order to line the canals once they were hollowed out, builders would add closely-stacked stakes in order to prevent water from coming in or dirt to backslide. These stakes were made from alder wood which is water-resistant and, luckily, there was a layer of hard clay at the bottom of the canals on which it all rested. Atop those sat wooden platforms on which stone was placed and this served as the foundation for the buildings which would eventually make up the city.
In order to get all of these materials to the soon to be Venice, however, wood needed to be imported via boat from Montenegro, Croatia, and Slovenia. The incredible thing about the foundation on which Venice sits on is that while wood normally rots - especially when exposed to water - but even the water in Venice was conducive to its building. The saltwater prohibits microorganisms from growing but also allows salt and additional minerals to harden the wood further, making it nearly as strong as stone.
Are All The Canals The Same Depth?
While it can be a challenge to decipher exactly how deep those trenches are while drifting by on a gondola, there's truly no exact answer for this. Many would assume that the canals in Venice are fairly shallow since an entire city sits atop them but this is simply not the case. Rather, every canal varies in its depth depending on location and condition, and can't all be measured with one yardstick.
Most of the canals in Venice measure no more than six and a half feet deep, but there are others that do exceed that. In fact, the Grand Canal is more than twice as deep as the others, measuring to a depth of just over 16 feet deep. It's expected that this waterway would be deeper due to its increased traffic and the fact that it's a main route, not unlike the Canale della Giudecca, which serves as a separation channel between Venice and the mainland, and reaches a depth of 30 to 55 feet.
Of course, these depths are also subject to change with the tides (as much of the world saw with the recent flooding in Venice) and also change according to the season and time of year. Annual maintenance on the canals has an effect as well, thus altering the water levels depending on the area of the work being done.