Corinth Canal is 3.9 miles long from west to east.
The Corinth Canal connects the Gulf of Corinth with the Aegean Sea's Saronic Gulf. Cutting through the sandy alluvial soil of the Isthmus of Corinth, the canal separates the Peloponnesian peninsula from the Greek mainland. In effect, the canal creates an island out of the Peloponnesus.
The Corinth Canal, only 68.9 feet wide and 26 feet deep, was constructed between 1881 and 1893. First the two ends were dug by a French firm. Then, after that company went bankrupt, a Greek contractor completed the work. The opening of the Corinth Canal a mere two dozen years after the opening of the Suez Canal helped to propel the Greek port of Piraeus into a major Mediterranean port. However, the expected windfall from canal tolls never materialized. In this age of supertankers, the Corinth Canal bears an anachronistic charm.
Because of the dangers faced by ancient mariners in their small boats, the idea of a canal across the narrow Ismthus of Corinth arose thousands of years ago. The first to attempt the construction of a canal was Periander, the seventh-century ruler of Corinth. Although Periander failed to dig much, he did improve upon the previous method of hauling small craft across the isthmus. That method involved pulling boats over large wooden rollers. Under Periander a stone trackway was built on which wheeled, flat vehicles could be used to pull boats. In fact, that system of portage remained in use until the twelfth century, and traces of the trackway can still be seen today near the canal's western end.
Roman Emperor Julius Caeser, who ruled from 48 to 44 B. C., also planned to build a canal across the Isthmus of Corinth. However, Caesar, of course, was assassinated. Later, in 54-68 A. D., the infamous Roman Emperor Nero actually participated in a ground-breaking ceremony for a canal using a golden pick, and six thousand Judean slaves began the excavation. But Nero, too, died shortly thereafter and the project was then abandoned until the late nineteenth century.
Small ships coming from the Western Mediterranean or from the Adriatic which are bound for the Eastern Mediterranean or the Black Sea find the Corinth Canal useful. Although ships narrow enough to utilize the canal can shave 248 miles off their journey, most of the 12,000 annual canal transits are now made for touristic purposes. Interestingly, the ships transiting the canal hail from more than 50 different countries.
Epidaurus theater is one of the most important ancient sites in Greece, with an almost perfectly preserved amphitheatre built 2,500 years ago and still hosting Greek dramas today. The World Heritage listed site is located at the eastern end of the Peloponnese, 62 kilometres south of the Corinthian Canal. Visitors flock here by the coachload on day trips from Athens and when performances are held in the theatre during the annual Hellenic Festival Epidaurus becomes one of the major cultural venues in Greece.
Mycenae was the oldest important city in Greece, founded in 6000 BC, and having its largest power between 1500 and 1200 BC. It is still a mystery how the city came to an end, and for a long time it was doubted whether the city existed at all. It was thought to exist only in ancient Greek mythology, and in the famous poets of Homer. But in 1807, a German amateur archeologist located the site of the old city, whose ruins have since been excavated. It is located in the north of the Greek Peloponnese, and can be reached from Corinth, Argos, or Nafplion.