Amazing Construction & Architecture: The Corinth Canal
One of the oldest canals in the world, the Corinth Canal, takes its name from the city nearest to the isthmus, Corinth, and connects two golfs from the Greek Archipelago - the Corinth Gulf and the Saronic one. In other words, it separates the mainland from the Peloponnese peninsula.
With a length of 6.3 km and depths between 69 and 82 feet, the Corinth Canal is among the top attractions of this kind, along with the Panama Canal and the Suez one.
This canal is a flat-water one that doesn't have locks. Moreso, it is kind of small in size and is mostly used by tour boats and smaller cruise ships. Furthermore, today is one of the most appreciated places for bungee jumping.
But let’s see how it got to be what it is today and also how you can reach it.
The desire to build a cutting in this area has been around even before our era, more specifically from the 7th century BC. However, due to the increased costs, the idea was abandoned.
Many others have been toying with the idea from that moment on. Still, none of them actually made an approach to bring the concept to life.
The first attempt was made by Nero, the famous Roman Emperor, who wished to build the canal using Jewish war prisoners. The project was named Diolkos. The digging lasted for only 2300 feet before Nero died, and the project ended.
In 1830, after the Greeks managed to win their independence from the Ottoman Empire, the idea of building such a structure was taken into consideration. But again, the costs were too big to be considered feasible, especially for a country that has just been through a war of independence.
The year 1869 marked the 'birth' of the Suez Canal. This artificial sea-level waterway is what makes the connection between the Red and the Mediterranean Seas. After this event, the impetus on building the Greek canal was yet again on the authorities' lips.
When the Hungarian engineer B. Gersted studied the territory before the actual building to start, he was more than taken aback by the quality of the ancient work done during Nero's attempt to create the cutting.
Unfortunately, other than a very deteriorated form of Hercules' relief, no other remains of the ancient canal have survived.
The construction of the modern canal started in 1882 and lasted 11 years.. The first company that was contracted was the "Austrian General Etienne Tyrr". But due to insufficient funds created by the bankruptcy of the company's owner, István Türr, the working stopped and was resumed in 1890 by a Greek company. The inauguration was finally possible on July 25, 1893.
The Canal During the Years
Even though the canal's expectations were high, the navigation turned out to be difficult due to its narrowness. Because of this, the traffic predictions turned out to be four times bigger than what actually happened.
The situation improved over the years, but the start of World War I meant an unexpected decline in traffic.
Another problem that the canal encountered was the need for multiple maintenance sessions for the walls that required the canal's closing.
Not only did 41K cubic meters of rock had fallen in the canal in 1932, but serious damage was done during the Second World War. The Germans blocked the canal using explosives, and it was only after 1947 when the United States started clearing the canal. The authorities needed almost a year to repair it and make it navigable for all traffic.
How to Reach the Canal
No matter where you are coming from, the chances of you flying to Athens airport are most likely. The good part is that the Corinth Canal road from the Greek capital is only an hour.
Usually, tourists look for accommodations either in Athens and take a day trip to visit the canal or go and find a place to stay in Corinth.
You can rent a car directly from Athens airport and enjoy a nice drive or take a train to Corinth. Once you are in Corinth, you can take a cab and go directly to the canal.
Another important piece of information you should be aware of is the fact that you can book tours that will take you from Isthmia. However, it is recommended that you contact the company and reserve a seat on the boat before the actual departure.
Probably the most popular place in the canal's surrounding area is the city of Corinth. With a great history which is tied with Spart and the Persian War, Corinth is an amazing place to visit. Its top attractions include the Acrocorinth, the Temple of Apollo, the archaeological site of Ancient Corinth where which inspired St. Paul to write New Testament books.
However, tourists should not overlook the beauties offered by the Ancient Isthmia. The place of best interest is the Temple of Poseidon since it is believed to be the God of Water's sanctuary.
Finally, if you are in the area, you should not lose the chance of relaxing in the spa town of Loutraki. At an 8 km distance from Corinth, this town is full of natural springs and, therefore, a great therapeutic retreat.
You just need to choose a hotel here and plan your day trip from here. As you can imagine, restaurants and fisheries are not lacking in the area, so the last thing you can be here is hungry.
The Corinth Canal is an impressive architectural construction which, of course, would be a pity to be missed if you are in the area. As the last suggestion, be sure not to visit the area during the rainy season because you won't be able to enjoy the trip 100%.