Is the Corinth Canal Man-Made?

Is the Corinth Canal man-made - Merchant Navy Info - Blog

There are many artificial canals around the world that have been built to shorten the routes of ships. Such canals, including the Panama Canal, Suez Canal, White Sea-Baltic Canal, Volga-Don Canal, etc. Provide easier or alternative shipping routes across major seawater networks around the world. Allowing the transport of goods and people in a more comfortable manner. The Corinth Canal in Greece is one of a oldest canals of its kind in the world. And is a very important navigation route for the Greek Islands, connecting the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf.


The location of this canal conveniently separates the Peloponnese from the Greek mainland, making it an island. Although the Greek Channel is very narrow. The fact is that this canal is an important lifeline for ships trying to enter the Aegean Sea. The Corinth Canal cuts through to the Isthmus of Corinth in an Greece. Connecting the Ionian Sea and the Aegean Sea. The canal allowed ships to travel around the Cape for approximately 300 miles. Allowing them to reach eastern ports more quickly and safely. It is now a popular tourist destination and the second most visited place in Greece. Attracting people from all over the world. Corinth is a ruin with many ancient landmarks, including the Temple of Apollo. And the Acrocorinth, the acropolis of ancient Corinth.


The Corinth Canal is 6.3 miles long, 26 feet deep, and varying in width. From a minimum of 69 feet to a maximum of 82 feet at the bottom and surface, respectively. Surrounded by walls 170 feet high, this canal helps ships save their 185 nautical miles of sailing. Before the canal was built, ships passing through this area had to take detours. To reach the Mediterranean and Black Seas in addition to the Aegean Sea.

The construction of this canal allowed sailors to avoid the danger. Of having to navigate around the dangerous southern headlands of the Peloponnese. When traveling between the Gulf of Corinth and the Saronic Gulf. Today, however, the Corinth Canal is losing its economic importance. As it can no longer accommodate modern large ships. Although many small cargo ships and cruise ships still pass through it regularly. To preserve its heritage, local authorities are undertaking ambitious plans. To change the dimensions of the canal and allow passage of modern sea freighters.

Construction Overview

The construction of the Corinth Canal was not an event planned years ago. But was actually a dream conceived thousands of years ago. Proposals to cut the Isthmus of Corinth began in the classical period when many Greek rulers dreamed of. Such a passage. The cities of Corinth and Isthmia lie near the western and eastern ends. With main roads linking Athens and the Peloponnese over canals.

However, it is believed that this idea was actually developed during the time of Periander, who lived in the 7th century BC. He was the second tyrant of Corinth. However, this was an ambitious project, and even Julius Caesar and the Roman emperors Nero and Caligula were unable to realize their canal plans. The canal was built in the late 19th century and opened on July 25, 1893.

Construction of the Corinth Canal 

Although the construction of the Corinth Canal was fraught with many complications, the idea was conceived under Periander’s government. Above all, superstition and orthodoxy, combined with a lack of infrastructure, difficult geological conditions, and war, postponed the construction of the canal.

Initially, the canal route consisted of dangerous rocks and was located in an area with high earthquake risk. This made the route highly unstable and vulnerable to unprecedented earthquakes. It is important to note that when construction of the canal began in the late 18th century, most of the rock formations had to be thoroughly examined and removed before engineers and architects could begin work.

This plan was once abandoned after Pythia, the high priestess of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi or the oracle of Delphi, warned that such a plan would incur the wrath of the gods. In addition, the Greek philosopher Apollonius of Tyana prophesied that anyone who took the initiative to build a canal in Corinth would become ill. However, we must also mention the chronology of emperors who tried to turn engineering dreams into reality.

History of the Corinth Canal 

This timeline helps you understand the events in exact chronological order: 

Periander (602 BC) 

The dictatorial Periander served as a bridge over the waterway. He was the first ruler to own a canal. Distance traveled by a ship. However, Periander abandoned this plan as it lacked feasibility and feared incurring the wrath of the gods.

When the plan proved difficult, he built a limestone platform with an easier and cheaper overland transport route called Diolkos, on which ships could reach from one bay to the other. I decided to load up, too. This stone road was used to roll ships on the works, a wheeled device that facilitated the loading and unloading of ships.

ships were unable to load onto the Diolkos and Orkos due to their size, and their cargo was unloaded on one shore and transferred to waiting ships on the other. The procedure was complicated, but at the time it was the only viable option. Decades later, the ruins of Diolkos can still be found next to what is now the Corinth Canal.


After Periander, other Greek rulers, Demetrios Poliorcytis, Julius Caesar, Caligula, and Hadrian, tried to further develop the idea of ​​building a canal between the Gulf of Corinth and the Saronic Gulf. Macedonian King Dimitrios Poliorchiti began in 307 BC. BC, excavations were carried out as part of the project, but engineers said that such a canal connecting the Aegean and Adriatic Seas would flood the Aegean Sea, and the sea god Poseidon opposed the construction of the canal, so the plan was abandoned. Has been abandoned. 

Roman dictator Julius Caesar postpones the project despite the gloomy prophecies of Apollonius, the philosopher of Tyana, but is assassinated before he can begin digging the canal. Caesar’s successor, Caligula, the third Roman emperor, promoted plans to build a canal. However, they were warned by Egyptian experts who falsely claimed that the Gulf of Corinth was higher than the Saronic Gulf. However, like Caesar, he too was killed before the construction of the canal began.

Nero (67 AD) 

Emperor Nero had some success in building the Corinth Canal. He was the first ruler and the first person in history to dig up the land and usher in the beginnings of canal construction. However, due to a lack of financial infrastructure and Nero’s assassination, construction of the canal was abruptly halted.

According to historical documents, Emperor Nero, along with a group of his 6,000 slaves, mostly Jewish prisoners, began construction of the canal, crushing approximately 3,000 meters of rock on the Gulf of Corinth side. Workers were tasked with building trenches 130 to 160 feet wide on both sides and digging deep shafts to determine the quality of the rock.

However, the work had to be halted when he had to return to crush the rebellion before dying. According to historians, almost one-tenth of all routes across the Isthmus were built under Nero’s supervision. A modern canal lies along the same route that Nero began building.

After Time of Nero

After the time of Nero, discussions about the canal arose in 1687, when the Venetians began planning after the conquest of the Peloponnese. However, the plan was abandoned as it proved too difficult.

In 1830, after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the newly appointed Greek governor, Ioannis Kapodistrias, led the revival of the Corinth Canal initiative. He commissioned the project to French engineer Ville Duc. However, construction had to be postponed because the new Greek government could not afford the estimated cost of 40 million gold francs.

So, in 1869, the government of Chancellor Trasiv Roszaimis authorized an Austrian private company owned by Etienne his Till, then an Austrian general, to begin construction. Finally, excavation of the canal began in 1882. After the company building the Panama Canal went bankrupt, French banks refused to lend, and construction work was temporarily halted, leading to a financial crisis for the company.

Later, in 1890, Greek entrepreneurs introduced the need for further capital investment in the form of 5 million francs. After overcoming many obstacles, the Greek Canal was finally constructed and opened on October 28, 1893.

Facts About the Corinth Canal 

After its opening, the canal was not as economically successful as originally expected. The difficulty of navigating the canal and frequent strong winds and currents reduced the number of passages through the canal. Large ships could only cross the canal with the help of tugboats, and ships could only pass through the canal one way, one at a time.

Even today, the canal is so narrow that large ships cannot pass through it. This is also a major issue for the viability of the Corinth Canal, given the size of today’s ships. Moreover, the Corinth Canal is not without risks.

The canal was hit by an earthquake in 1923 when approximately 40,000 cubic meters of walls surrounding the canal collapsed into the water.It took approximately two years for the accumulated debris to be completely removed and shipping to resume. Vessels using this route already receive regular high-risk warnings. The Corinth Canal, which was one of its strategically important locations, also suffered damage during World War II.

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