Corinthian Canal

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The Corinth Canal is a canal connecting the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea. It cuts through the Isthmus of Corinth and separates the Peloponnesian peninsula from the Greek mainland and therefore effectively makes it an island.

The canal is 6.3 km in length and was built between 1881 and 1893. It was planned by the Hungarian architects István Türr and Béla Gerster, who had also been involved with early surveys for the Panama Canal. Its construction was started by a French company, which ceased works only after the two ends had been dug, due to financial difficulties. A Greek company took over, the main contractor being Antonis Matsas, and continued (and completed) the project, which is considered a great technical achievement for its time. It saves the 400 km long journey around the Peloponnesus for smaller ships, but since it is only 21 m wide, it is too narrow for modern ocean freighters. The canal is nowadays mostly used by tourist ships; 11,000 ships per year travel through the waterway. The low water depth of the canal is 8 meters.

At each end of the canal, seashore roads cross using unique submersible bridges that are lowered to the canal bottom to allow maritime traffic to pass

The first attempt to build a canal at the place was carried out by the tyrant Periander or Periandros in 7th century BC. He abandoned the project due to its technical difficulties and constructed an overland stone ramp, named Diolkos instead. Remnants of Diolkos still exist today next to the modern canal. In the years of the late Roman Republic, Julius Caesar had foreseen the advantages of such a venture for his newly built, Colonia laus Iulia Corinthiensis. Later in 67AD the philhellene Roman emperor Nero ordered 6,000 slaves to dig a canal with spades. The following year Nero died, and his successor Galba abandoned the project, since it appeared too expensive to him.

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