Corinth Canal quick facts

Corinth CanalOne of the most impressive engineering marvels in Greece is a modern version of an ancient idea.

The Corinth Canal is a 6.3 kilometre-long (3.9 miles) cutting through the Isthmus of Corinth which saves small ships a journey of about 700 kilometres (430 miles) between the Saronic Gulf and the Aegean Sea.

The first proposal for a canal was made in the 7th century BC, but the technology simply didn’t exist then for a successful cutting to be made.  Julius Caesar also wanted to build a canal through the isthmus, but his assassination got in the way before plans could be drawn up.  The Intention to build a canal at Corinth was a bad omen for Roman Emperors as Nero actually travelled to the area to dig the first sod of his canal project, and he had 6000 slaves continue his good work, although they were expected to toil at a much harder pace than the mad Emperor, but Nero died shortly afterwards, and his canal plans were also shelved – although the slaves did manage to get quite a good start on the project, as the modern canal follows the same route as Nero’s.

The canal was finally finished in 1893, after several companies went broke trying to build it.  The Corinth Canal was eventually completed by a Hungarian company that had done a lot of work on the Panama Canal, so had some idea about what they were doing.

Although the Canal was adequate for 18th century ships to sail through, it is only 24 metres wide and too narrow for most modern ships, but about 11,000 smaller vessels do navigate through the Canal each year.  The Corinth Canal has very steep sides, and the walls are 52 metres high at its highest point.  Still is it very impressive to stand at the top of the canal and look down at the boast way below plying their way through the canal.

The Canal has submersible bridges at each end. So that traffic can pass, and when a vessel approaches, the bridges are cleared of traffic and submerged to allow the boats to cross them.

In 2010 Australian motorcycle daredevil Robbie Maddison discovered a new way to cross the Corinth Canal; he simply jumped over it on a motorbike.  This method is not recommended for everyone.

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