Corinth Canal

The Corinth Canal links the Gulf of Corinth in the northwest with the Saronic Gulf in the southeast. The canal is 3.9 miles (6.3 km) long and has a water depth of 26 feet (8 m). Its width varies from a minimum of 69 feet (21 m) at the bottom to 82 feet (25 m) maximum at the water's surface. 

Before it was built, ships sailing between the Aegean and Adriatic had to circumnavigate the Peloponnese adding about 185 nautical miles to their journey. The first to decide to dig the Corinth Canal was Periander, the tyrant of Corinth (602 BCE). Such a giant project was above the technical capabilities of ancient times so Periander carried out another great project, the diolkós, a stone road, on which the ships were transferred on wheeled platforms from one sea to the other. Dimitrios Poliorkitis, king of Macedon (c. 300 BCE), was the second who tried, but his engineers insisted that if the seas where connected, the more northerly Adriatic, mistakenly thought to be higher, would flood the more southern Aegean. At the time, it was also thought that Poseidon, god of the sea, opposed joining the Aegean and the Adriatic. The same fear also stopped Julius Caesar and emperors Hadrian and Caligula. The most serious try was that of Emperor Nero (67 CE). He had 6,000 slaves for the job. He started the work himself, digging with a golden hoe, while music was played. However, he was killed before the work could be completed. 

In the modern era, the first who thought seriously to carry out the project was Capodistrias (c. 1830), first governor of Greece after the liberation from the Ottoman Turks. But the budget, estimated at 40 million French francs, was too much for the Greek state. Finally, in 1869, the Parliament authorized the Government to grant a private company (Austrian General Etiene Tyrr) the privilege to construct the Canal of Corinth. Work began on Mar 29, 1882, but Tyrr's capital of 30 million francs proved to be insufficient. The work was restarted in 1890, by a new Greek company (Andreas Syggros), with a capital of 5 million francs. The job was finally completed and regular use of the Canal started on Oct 28, 1893.

Click on the thumbnails below in order to see pictures of the Corinth Canal.  Use your browser's back button to return to this page.

Corinth CanalThe Corinth Canal with the road bridge overhead. There is a ship at the distant entrance.

Corinth CanalThe Corinth Canal

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© All pictures are Copyright 2000 Grisel Gonzalez and Jeff Prosise