The Corinth Canal is a canal that connects the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea. The canal is 6.3 kilometer in length and was built between 1881 and 1893.
The Corinth Canal is considered a great technical achievement for its time. It saves the 400 kilometers long journey around the Peloponnesus for smaller ships, but since it is only 21 meters wide. The depth of the canal is 8 meters at low water. The maximum air-draft of the Canal is limited to 52m because of the rail and road bridges.
So it is too narrow for modern ocean freighters.
Though 11,000 ships per year travel through the waterway (mostly for tourist purposes).
You may watch my high resolution photos of tha Canal on the Google Earth according to the following coordinates 37º 55' 37.46" N 22º 59' 39.01" E
and on Google Panoramio Greece Corinth Channel West and Greece Corinth Channel East.
I’ve counted 6 bridges across the Canal. We were brought to the Old Motorway Bridge because it’s situated almost at the middle of the Canal and the most fascinating views are opening from there.
Watching to the West we could see the Railway Bridge with the pedestrian footbridge at the distance less than 500 meters. While zooming my camera I could see the Big Pedestrian Bridge at the distance of 1 kilometer.
Watching to the East we could see the New Motorway Bridge at the distance of 300 meters where autobahn was passing by.
There are also 2 sinking bridges in the Corinth Canal today at Poseidonia and at Isthmia -- to facilitate land traffic over it. At each end of the canal, seashore roads cross using submersible bridges that are lowered to the canal bottom to allow maritime traffic to pass.
Inside the Korinth Ruins Site is a small museum. Most of the really valuable things in all the Greek sites were taken to Athens, but you can always find some interesting things to see in their museums. This museum has some good statues, and parts of statues that they have found.
Displayed behind a glass window are collections of body parts that were either knocked off or through time fell off.
I heard a guide saying that a lot of these artifacts had been stolen and were returned from the U.S. I cannot confirm this, but makes it interesting.
Although the Ancient Corinth is more important historically, the Corinth Canal was so impressive since the first time I saw it (during my childhood) so I will put this as a must see for sure. The old expressway from Athens to Part was over it in the past so we were very excited every time we were crossing the canal even if we didn’t stop. Now, the new expressway is further inside but still there are locals and tourists that come here to admire the canal and have a coffee or a souvlaki around.
Corinth Isthmus is a canal that connects the Corinth and the Saronic Gulfs and actually seprates the Peoloponesus from Attica peninsula and mainland.
It was the ancient era (during Periandros tyranny back in 7th century BC) when they tried to find a way for a quick transfer of goods so they put a ramp (called Diolkos) across the Corinth Isthmus to drag the ships and avoid doing the long and dangerous circumnavigation around Peloponesus. The Romans (during Nero kingdom) had also an idea for a passage that would connect the two seas (Ionian and Aegean) but luck of money cancelled the plan although more than 6000 slaves used during the first years of construction.
Many centuries later at the end of 19th century the construction of the Corinth Canal begun (finished in 1893) with thousands of ships crossing it although in our days only 11.000 ships per year travel through it (mainly some tourist ships). It is 6300 meters in length, 21 meters wide and about 85 meters high. It was a great technical achievement of that era but kind of small for the huge modern ships.
Although the new motorway is further down so the long distance buses from Athens don’t cross/stop here there are still some cafes where you can refresh your self or taste a souvlaki. I noticed overpriced items and souvenirs though. You don’t need more than 15 minutes just to take around and take photos from both sides of the old motorway bridge. You can see other bridges all over the canal. You can also have good views of the canal from the bottom side at Isthmia where a small movable allow the boats to enter/exit the canal.
The ruins of Ancient Corinth is the most popular and important sight to see in Corinth area. There are a large number of ruins of old buildings, temples, the agora etc
Althought the city of Ancient Corinth covered an area of about 15 km what you can visit here is the excavated site but you can also see ancient walls all over the village of Archea Korinthos(Ancient Corinth in greek).
As you inside you pay for the entrance (6 euro) that includes entrance to the museum too (leave this for the end). They give you a simple leaflet but it’s better if you buy a better guide book if you are not on an organized tour with a guide. There are also many signs with schetches, plans of the original buildings and the area and written info about some of the ruins in greek/English/german (most of the info here is from there).
The first thing you see on your left is the Glauke Fountain, a large cubic mass of limestone named after Glauke the daughter of Creon(king of Corinth). When Midea tried to poised her, Glauke felt into the fountain to stop the poison from burning her. Originally the fountain was contained withing a long limestome ridge running west from Temple Hill. Unlike all other fountains in Corinth, Glauke fountain does not exploit a natural spring but is fed by water piped in from a source in the south.
The highlight that dominates Ancient Corinth is the Temple of Apollo of course. It’s temple that was built in 6th century BC on the ruins of a temple from the 7th century BC. The temple was built in Doric style and you can see 7 remaining columns of it that used to be at the back side of the temple while originally the temple had 42 columns.
Then I visited the buildings at west end of Roman Agora and the Bema. Bema is a marbled structure that used to be the venue for public ceremonies and the place where the proconsul of Corinth judged citizens that were accused for some reason like Apostle Paul from Corinth’s jews. In Byzantine period a Christian church was built on the site of Bema. Next to Bema you can still see the main shops of Agora (Forum) and then walk along the main road of the Agora which was Lechaion road was the most important road and you can see much of the area around it on the sign (pic ). The most interesting site around here is the Peirene Fountain, that was standed upon a natural spring that still flows underground. The fountain was impressive but the myth about it is also interesting: Peirene was the lover of Poseidon (god of sea) that felt into tears when Artemis accidentally killed her son Kechrias.
After strolling around the South Stoa and the Temple E I went into the museum. You can visit the museum for a nice collection of mosaics, statues, amphoras etc It’s not that big so you can stroll around in a few minutes.
The site is open 8.00 - 20.00 (summer) and 8.00 - 17.00 (winter). If come on your own try to visit the place early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the heat. I never saw big amounts of tourists but I have to admit that I never visited Ancient Corinth during summer
The high fortress of Acros Corinth absolutely is a must to visit when you come to Corinth. It's a 575 metres high hill, overlooking the wide surroundings of the city.
The oldest parts of the walls of the Fortress come from the 2nd century B.C. and parts were added all the time untill the Venetian Period. Inside the walls a famous temple, dedicated to Aphrodite, was built, just as later there were built churches and even a mosque.
In total three rings of wall surround the enormous inside. The walls were partly rebuilt during large renovations that started in 1930, and go on untill now. But fortunately the nature still has an imported role inside the fortress, because it makes a magnificent and photogenic mix between nature and culture.
Acros Corinth is free to visit, and is very quiet. It's a great place to relax, especially at the end of the day, when the most of the tourists are gone already.
The modern canal was dug between 1882 and 1893. It is 6343 meters long and 21 meters wide.
The story of the modern digging is not absolutely clear and various sources give somehow contradictory information. I have collected various sources from the literature and finally established the following story which should not be to far from the truth.
In 1829, Virlet d’Aoust, a member of the French “Expédition de Morée” established a project for digging the Corinth canal.
Following the successful opening of the Suez Canal, a French company, the “Société Internationale du Canal Maritime de Corinthe" was hired to dig it. It had a capital of 30,000,000 Francs and a 99 years concession. Diggings began on March 29th 1882 and were scheduled to last 4 years. However there had not been enough detailed geological studies and the job was finally more difficult than expected. Increase of the cost of the job led the company to bankruptcy while only both ends of the canal had been dug (I have read somewhere else that they stopped while 80% of the canal had been dug).
The Greek government hired a Hungarian General and architect, István Türr to establish a detailed planning with Béla Gerster, another Hungarian architect. Finally Andreas Syngros built up a Greek company that hired Antonis Matsas as the main contractor. They resumed the digging and ended the canal in 1893.
In the beginning, it was mainly use for trading purpose. Only ships under 10,000 tons with a draught less than 8 meters can use it.
Given the increase in the size of ships, it is now used mostly by cruising boats for the pleasure of tourists and by a few trading boats for local transport.
This amazing piece of engineering I reckon is a must-see! Its only an hour by excellent and rather fast/free flowing motorway from the Athens airport where I picked up my rental car. Not a lot of signposting though so its best to have a good road map and rely on that and your senses - as in where to leave the motorway to meet the road that goes over the Corinth Canal and where you can stop your car to park and look around and walk over the bridges at the southeastern end (often referred to as Isthmos) that look down into the canal. There are a few souvenir shops here too with a good selection of things to broadcast youve been to this impressive place. (and good toilets too).
Then driving to where the canal enters/exits at the northwestern end is by guesswork as well - driving on and then taking a road to the right that follows the coast to meet up with the canal. Was not particularly difficult.
The idea for a Corinth Canal to provide a short cut and safe passage between the Aegean and Ionian seas dates right back to Roman times, with Nero and his jewish slaves making an attempt, but it was not until the 1890's that technology became available to cut right across the 6km isthmus. Opened in 1893 the Canal helped establish Piraeus as a major port but since supertankers the canal is now hardly needed
After visiting the Ancient Corinth archeological site we headed up to mountain that overlooks the ancient town. It’s called Acrokorinthos (acro in greek means edge) and was occupiced several times from the ancient times because of its strategic position over the Corinth Gulf. There is a castle there with ruins form different architectural styles because Romans, Byzantines, Turks and Venetians ruled the area for smaller or longer periods. For me, going up there was the highlight of my visit in Corinth because of the amazing views. Its about 600 meters high and you can walk inside the castle. There 3 different outer walls and some massive main gates. Inside the castle you can see chapels, an abandoned mosque but for me the most impressive were the several paths lined with beautiful blossom poppies. The most important site here was the Temple of Aphrodite though, a famous and important temple for the men of ancient Corinth because it housed many sacred prostitues that gave joy to them :) No sign of them in our days of course but you can see some ruins of the temple.
The castle is open 8.30-15.00 (till 19.00 in summer) and there’s no entrance fee. Wear comfortable shoes to walk on the cobble path that is slippery on some parts.
The modern city of Corinth (Korinthos in greek) has nothing to offer really to the visitor because all the sights (ancient Corinth, acrocorinth, the canal etc) are outside of the city. It’s a typical greek city that after some big earthquakes it’s been rebuilt with concrete all over the place with no good taste at all. If it happens to pass by you can enjoy walking near the small port (pic 1 ) and enjoy a frappe at one of the outdoor cafes. There is a church near the port, it’s Agios Nikolaos church with a funny, blue colored interior (pic 2).
A few meters away from the port is the Historic and Laographic museum (pic 3) on Ermou street 1. It opened in 1988 by Alkmini Petropoulou and it is opened Tuesday to Sunday 8.30-13.30. The museum focus on folkloric items, many agricultural tools and house items, apparel, old books etc
Although, during the summer the people go down to the port in the other months the youth gather at the cafes of Pyraninos street, a pedestrian street in the center of the city.
The Apostolos Pavlos cathedral (pic 4) is much more interesting but you have to drive to other side of the city. It is dedicated to Apostle Paul that passed by Ancient Corinth to preach. The cathedral celebrates on June 29. On our way we stopped for a while in front of the Court House where you can see the statue(pic 5) of the bishop Damaskinos (1891-1949) that was eparch of Corinth in the past.
Down at the northwestern end of the Corinth Canal where it meets the Gulf of Korinthos, are views up the canal and where you can see the remains of the ancient diolkos which was a paved road where boats were carried across the isthmus.
The road crosses the water by a small one lane bridge that lifts to allow the boats through in and out of the canal and on which you can get some good views right up the canal.
The ideas of making this famous canal are very old. The first digging started by the Roman emperor Nero in the year 66. He started with a golden spade. After him, 6.000 jewish labours were forced to continue this work. But for some reason they didn´t finish the work in this period. Of the total of 6343 metres, only 3500 metres was dug out.
In 1893, after 11 years of digging, the canal was finished. It connects the harbour of Piraeus witht the Adriatic sea, and shortens the route with 350 km´s.
The canal is 23 metres wide and 8 metres deep. This is too shallow for the biggest ship of today and it´s too dangerous for the smallest boats. So there are very few ships that actually use this canal. If there is a boat that wants to cross the canal it take about half an hour and a lot of care to cross it.
I drove into modern Corinth/Korinthos trying to find the road that would take me along the coastline to meet up with the entrance into the Corinth Canal - and had no reason to head any further into the city as being an industrial and agricultural city along with having being levelled in several severe earthquakes and rebuilt there is pretty much nothing of tourism interest here to see (my Rough guide described it as having been 'repaired and reconstructed with buildings made of characterless concrete'). I simply needed to turn around and find the road turning right that would take me north-east.
I did get a good view of Korinthos along its shore though from a hill above where the waterway where the Corinth Canal leads from.
Already in the the 6th century BC, boats were transported on wagons across the isthmus on a special paved road. Alternatively, goods were unloaded and transported across the isthmus.
In 67 AD, Nero decided that a canal had to be dug. 6000 prisoners were in charge of the work but the project was abandoned by the next emperor.
At the north-western/Korinthos end of the canal, where the canal enters the isthmus from the Gulf of Korinthos, are signs that point out remains of the Ancient Diolkos - a paved way along which a wheeled platform used to carry boats across the isthmus.
This was in use from the Roman times until the twelfth century and the boats were strapped onto the platform after being relieved temporarily of their cargos.