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Corinth Canal


The Corinth Canal is an engineering marvel. A project that spanned many centuries, it was conceived by a ruler of Ancient Corinth, begun by Roman emperor Nero, and completed in the 19th century by the French. Cut through solid rock, the canal is more than 6km long and 23m wide, its vertical sides rising 90m above the water. The canal did much to elevate Piraeus’ status as a major Mediterranean port and is particularly impressive when a ship is passing through.

The concept of cutting a canal through the Corinth Isthmus to link the Ionian and Aegean Seas was first proposed by Periander, tyrant of Ancient Corinth at the end of the 7th century BC. The magnitude of the task defeated him, so he opted instead to build a diolkos (paved slipway), across which sailors dragged small ships on rollers, a method used until the 13th century.

In the intervening years many leaders, including Alexander the Great and Caligula, toyed with the canal idea, but it was Nero who struck the first blow himself, using a golden pickaxe in AD 67 before leaving it to 6000 Jewish slaves to do the hard work. The project was soon halted by Gallic invasions. The modern project was inaugurated in 1882 and, after numerous bankruptcies, the canal was finally completed in 1893.

The main bridge over the canal is packed with bus tours but offers an undeniably impressive view of the cutting. If you have your own transport, head to nearby Isthmia to the submersible bridge. The nearby banks are great vantage points to watch the procedure when a ship comes through.

Boat trips run along the canal from Loutraki. For the adventurous, Zulu Bungy Jump, by the main bridge, offers the chance to see the canal walls from a unique angle.

All buses from Athens pass over the bridge and stop at the Corinth Isthmus KTEL bus station, 200m from the canal.

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