Introduction: Venice Under Threat (02:46)
Venice's original builders broke every law of architecture when constructing the city in the middle of a lagoon. The MOSE project has been created to save Venice from the threat of rising sea levels.
Early City History (06:03)
Venice was founded in wetlands that were hostile to human occupation but provided natural defenses against invaders. Early Venetians drove wooden piles through silt and mud to stabilize buildings; the wood was mineralized and did not decay.
"Upside Down Forest" (07:51)
St. Mark's Square, Rialto Bridge, and other landmarks rest on wooden piles. Istrian stone helps protect palaces from saltwater; lime mortar and wood bend as foundations shift. The palaces all have wells.
Crisis of the Middle Ages (04:48)
Venice had 170,000 citizens at the end of the 15th century, and the city's fleet dominated the Mediterranean. Accumulated silt threatened waterways so the solution was to reroute the Brenta and Sile rivers.
Hydraulic Disaster (04:58)
Industry, a new channel, and other factors took a toll on the Venetian lagoon. As the city's water table drained, it began sinking. A particularly high tide flooded 80% of the town on Nov. 4, 1966.
Brick and Mortar Damage (04:41)
Venetians stopped pumping from the water table. Sinking ground and rising water levels meant saltwater rose above Istrian stone foundations to erode the walls of Venetian palaces. Motorboats and cruise ships added to the problem.
Disappearing Under the Sea? (04:04)
Sections of Venice's canals were drained for restoration work, but added to subsidence. One third of the city’s ground floors became uninhabitable, and flooding became more frequent. Global warming and rising sea levels add to the urgency.
Public Works Project (09:57)
The MOSE Project launched in 2003 and is in its final phase of completion. Once finished, retractable barriers will protect against exceptionally high tides. There are also plans to refill the city’s aquifer.
Credits: Venice Under Threat (00:39)
Credits: Venice Under Threat
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