Venice, capital of northern Italy’s Veneto region, is built on more than 100 small islands in a marshy lagoon in the Adriatic Sea. Its stone palaces seemingly rise out of the water. There are no cars or roadways, just canals and boats. The Grand Canal snakes through the city, which is filled with innumerable narrow, maze-like alleys and small squares. Venice is the capital of the Veneto region. In 2009, there were 170,098 people residing in Venice's commune, of whom around 60,000 live in the historic city of Venice. Having started in Ancient Roman times by the late 13th century, Venice was the most prosperous city in all of Europe. At the peak of its power and wealth, it had 36,000 sailors operating 3,300 ships, dominating Mediterranean commerce. Venice's leading families vied with each other to build the grandest palaces and support the work of the greatest and most talented artists. Venice is full of beautiful sites, museums, churches, art galleries, and shops. Venice is one of the most important tourist destinations in the world for its celebrated art and architecture. The city has an average of 50,000 tourists a day.