The Corinth Canal is a waterway that crosses the narrow isthmus of Corinth to link the Gulf of Corinth to the Saronic Gulf. As such, the canal separates the Greek mainland from the Peloponnese, turning it into an island.
The canal was initially proposed in classical times and a failed effort was made to build it in the 1st century CE.Construction started in 1881 but was hampered by geological and financial problems that bankrupted the original builders. It was completed in 1893 but, due to the canal’s narrowness, navigational problems and periodic closures to repair landslides from its steep walls, it failed to attract the level of traffic expected by its operators. The canal is now used mainly for tourist traffic.
Several rulers of antiquity dreamed of digging a cutting through the isthmus. The first to propose such an undertaking was the tyrant Periander in the 7th century BC. The project was abandoned and Periander instead constructed a simpler and less costly overland portage road, named the Diolkos or stone carriageway, along which ships could be towed from one side of the isthmus to the other. Periander’s change of heart is attributed variously to the great expense of the project, a lack of labor or a fear that a canal would have robbed Corinth of its dominant role as an entrepôt for goods. Remnants of the Diolkos still exist next to the modern canal.
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