Located in the Aegean Sea, the Corinth Canal connects the Saronic Gulf and the Gulf of Corinth. Many rulers dreamed of cutting a passageway through Isthmus of Corinth, which formed a land bridge between mainland Greece and the Peloponnese peninsula. With construction beginning in 1881, it was finally completed in 1893. Due to its narrowness, frequent landslides and navigational issues, the canal has ceased to be used except for purposes of tourism. Despite its shortcomings and ultimate failure, the canal has an important history and makes a fantastic place for visitors interested in learning.
It Was Advanced
The building of this canal was a great technological achievement for its time period. With its construction, ships were able to avoid the 430 mile journey it took to get around the Peloponnese. The canal is made up of only one 8 meter channel and was dug at sea level so that it did not require any locks. The rock walls stand at 90 meters above the sea level and are sat at an eighty degree angle.
It Was Sought After By Famous Rulers
Many leaders of this time period wanted to play their part in the building of this canal. The proposal began with the tyrant, Periander back in the 7th century BC. Due to exuberant costs and fear that the canal would out-do Corinth for transporting goods, he let go of the project. During 336-283 BC, Diadoch Demetrius Poliorcetes planned to build the canal to improve communication but eventually gave up on the plan when surveyors miscalculated the sea level and flooding became an issue. The Emperor Nero began the first construction of the canal and after his death, it was continued by his workers. Many others including a Roman senator, the Venetians, the French and a Greek King all wished for the canal to be constructed.
It Became Part of a Legend
A legend of death began to form around the building of the Corinth Canal. The philosopher, Apollonius of Tyana began to predict death for anyone who considered digging the canal. Three Roman rulers befell violent deaths and even Julius Cesar himself had once purposed the idea before being assassinated. Emperor Nero died shortly after beginning the construction of the canal and Emperor Caligula was also assassinated shortly after his proposition.
It Was a Focus During World War II
Due to its strategic location, the Corinth Canal was the scene of fighting during the second world war. In April of 1941, the Battle of Greece between British troops and Nazi Germany caused significant damage to the canal. German troops tried to capture the bridge over the canal but it had previously been rigged by the British who set off charges and destroyed it. Years later, during German “scorched earth” operations, the troops set off explosives to block the canal, which demolished the bridges and threw the debris into the canal. However, it was eventually cleaned up and reopened for use by 1948.