Acqua alta regularly floods the San Marco Square in Venice

For the first time ever, Venice’s Basilica di San Marco stays dry thanks to innovation

For the first time ever, Venice’s Basilica di San Marco stays dry thanks to innovation

The glass barrier is a temporary solution, but it already protects the priceless heritage inside the temple

Acqua alta (or high water) is the term for the tide that regularly floods the Venetian islands the famous San Marco Square, forcing residents and guests to don plastic boots and wade through the historic piazza. This time, however, when the latest acqua alta came in, the San Marco Basilica stayed dry thanks to an innovative glass barrier that had been placed around the perimeter of the temple and which now prevents the water from covering the precious marbles and mosaics.

Yesterday, 6 November, the tide level stood at 95 centimetres, which meant that the water's depth on the iconic square was 10 centimetres (or even 20 at some lower-placed spots). The glass barrier, which consists of 130-cm-tall clear slabs stops the water on its way to the Basilica interior.

The intervention costs 5.2 million euros to install, however, it is a temporary solution for the next three years until the larger MOSE project is complete.

Anti-tide protection for the entire lagoon

MOSE stands for Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico (Experimental Electromechanical Module) and is a project that essentially represents the installation of mechanical dikes on the bottom of the passages where the Adriatic Sea connects to the Venetian Lagoon. These dikes are lifted, with air pressure, when a tide comes in thus forming a barrier that prevents the tidal wave from rolling into the lagoon.

Perhaps, it is no coincidence then that MOSE also means Moses in Italian, the Biblical personage who split the sea in two.

MOSE is activated when the level of the tide is 110 centimetres, which is this past weekend they were not put into use. It is also reported that it will take another three years for their full completion and testing, which is why the glass barrier surrounding the Basilica will serve as a temporary solution and additional protection until then.



Growing City


Smart City


Green City


Social City


New European Bauhaus




ECP 2021 Winner TheMayorEU