Most people have never been through the Corinth Canal. Not surprising since it doesn’t really go anywhere, most shipping is too big for it and the traffic between the Adriatic and the Aegean is limited mainly to tourists. However, Ruth and I have now been through it twice, and the first time we did it was part of another epic journey some twenty odd years ago when we traveled overland from Saudi Arabia on our return to the UK after our first adventure in living and working abroad.
We were on a ferry from Alexandria in Egypt, heading for Barri in Italy, having visited Crete, Athens and of course the Corinth Canal. Unfortunately we have no record of this as our camera was stolen when we disembarked in Barri, but that’s another story.
The canal is a single channel some 6.3 km long which cuts through the Isthmas of Corinth northwest to southeast. The walls are almost vertical (80 degree angle).
In ancient times there were several attempts to cut the canal but all came to nothing. Emperor Nero made most progress and actually started excavation, but he died very shortly after work began.
The canal was finally opened on 25th July 1893 having taken eleven years to complete. By contrast, some 20 years earlier, the Canadian Pacific and Union Pacific Railway, which covered some 3000 miles from St Lewis to the Pacific Ocean, blasting through the Rocky Mountains and the High Sierras, was completed in two years.
Almost by the time the canal was built, it was obsolete. The wake of vessels passing through it undermined the construction and caused the walls to collapse. It has never been a commercial success and nowadays it is used mainly as a tourist feature, or to allow easy passage into the Aegean for worthy vessels such as Lothian Sky.
Perhaps it is a folly, but it is a glorious folly and the experience of passing through it is unforgettable, as was the fee – €239!! So if you go there, take your cheque book.