The famous Corinth Canal, which separates the Peloponnese from mainland Greece, connects the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf. The Corinth Canal, though only completed in the late 19th century, was an idea and dream that’s dates back over 2000 thousand years.
The strip of land that connects the Peloponnese and mainland Greece is called the “Isthmus”. At it’s narrowest point, it is only 4 miles wide, and in ancient times, one could see from one side to the other.
Before the Corinth Canal was constructed, ships had to travel all around the Peloponnese, which added approximately 185 nautical miles, and several days more travel to their journey time.
The Ancient Greeks devised a solution to the problem of the extra length of the ships’ journey when the “Diolkos” was constructed. This was a stoned path, paved with limestone, which ran along from Schinous on the Saronic Gulf to Poseidonia on the Corinth Gulf. The name “Diolkos” means a “movable platform”.
The tyrant of Corinth, Periander, was the first who envisioned the Corinth Canal in 602BC, but the technical capabilities in ancient times made his idea impossible to carry out. Instead, he developed the “Diolkos”, which more than served its’ purpose.
Along the “Diolkos” ran the “olkos”, which was a wheeled vehicle onto which ships were actually lifted onto, and taken over land from one side to the other.
Not all ships could use the “olkos” due to their size, but in many cases, the cargo of ships was taken off at one side, and transported to the other, where a second ship would be waiting to load on the cargo. Today, there are still sections of the “diolkos” that one can still see.
There were many others who intended to start the construction of the Corinth Canal, but for a number of varied reasons, the project never took off. Demetrius Poliorkitis, King of Macedon was one who tried in 300 BC, but with no positive results.
Amongst reasons stopping him was the belief that Poseidon, God of the Sea, opposed the joining of the Aegean and the Adriatic. This was also a fear that stopped Julius Caeser and Emperors Caligula and Hadrian from starting construction of the canal.
The first serious attempt at the canals construction was by Emperor Nero, who in 67AD, announced to spectators at the Isthmian Games that he was going to dig the canal that would "connect the two seas".
Nero in fact dug the first piece of land out himself, using a golden pick, and carried this first basket of earth and turf on his own back. However, even though Nero had approximately 6000 slaves who would work on the canal, again, the plan never materialized, for several reasons, including financial ones.
The idea for the canal was left unfinished, until it was revived again during the late 1800’s. After several false starts, the Corinth Canal was finally completed, and put in use, on October 28th 1893.
The work on the canal was carried out by a combination of French and Greek workmen. The Corinth Canal was actually based on the “Panama ans Suez Canals”, and has often been referred to as the “step-child” of these canals.
The Corinth Canal is still in use today, though many newer and larger ships are too large to pass through any more. However, the canal is still used by many smaller ships, and there are also cruises organized where you can travel on a boat along the canal.For those with a little more adventure inside them, there is also a bungy jump, which is organized by Zulu Bungy, where you can jump off the bridge and experience the bungy jump of your life. For those of you with not so much adventure, you can stand on the bridge and watch the bungy jumps, as well as look down on the passing ships that sail slowly along the canal.
Found Here: http://www.aroundgreece.com/corinth-canal-peloponnese-greece.html
The Corinth Canal (Greek: Διώρυγα της Κορίνθου) is a canal that connects the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea. It cuts through the narrow Isthmus of Corinth and separates the Peloponnesian peninsula from the Greek mainland, thus effectively making the former an island. The canal is 6.3 kilometres (3.9 mi) in length and was built between 1881 and 1893.
Several rulers in antiquity dreamed of cutting a canal through the Isthmus. The first to propose such an undertaking was the tyrant Periander in the 7th century BC. He abandoned the project due to technical difficulties, and instead constructed a simpler and less costly overland portage road, named Diolkos. According to another theory, Periander feared that a canal would have robbed Corinth of its dominating role as entrepôt for goods. Remnants of the Diolkos still exist next to the modern canal.
The Diadoch Demetrius (336–283 BC) planned to construct a canal as a means to improve his communication lines, but dropped the plan after his surveyors, miscalculating the levels of the adjacent seas, feared heavy floods.
The historian Suetonius tells us that the Roman Dictator Julius Caesar (r. 49-44 BC) projected, among other grandiose engineering schemes, a canal through the Isthmus. He was assassinated before he could bring the scheme to fruition.
The Roman Emperor Nero (r. 54–68 A.D.) launched an excavation, personally breaking the ground with a pickaxe and removing the first basket-load of soil, but the project was abandoned when he died shortly afterwards. The Roman workforce, consisting of 6000 Jewish prisoners of war, started digging 40–50 m (130–160 ft) wide trenches from both sides, while a third group at the ridge drilled deep shafts for probing the quality of the rock (which were reused in 1881 for the same purpose). As the modern canal follows the same course as Nero's, no remains have survived.
The modern attempt at construction began in the 1870s following the successful opening of the Suez Canal. A French company was hired to build it, but due to financial difficulties, the company ceased work after only the two ends had been dug. Finally, in 1881 the Hungarian architects István Türr and Béla Gerster, who had also been involved with early surveys for the Panama Canal, were hired to plan a new canal. A Greek company led by Andreas Syngros (the main contractor being Antonis Matsas) ultimately took over the project and completed it in 1893.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corinth_Canal