The Peloponnese is divided from mainland Greece by a canal known as the Corinth Canal, which links the Corinthian Gulf and the Saronic Gulf. The canal is 6.4 km long in total. It is 21.4 meters wide. Ships with a maximum width of 17 meters can fit through the narrow canal because of its size.
The Corinth Canal’s construction was first contemplated in antiquity. First, the tyrant Periander proposed the canal’s construction in the 7th century BC, during the time of the Ancient Greeks. The canal, however, was unable to be built because of the challenges involved in the project’s construction and the belief that the gods would be offended. Nero, the Roman emperor at the time, began work on the Corinth Canal in 67 AD. Although 6,000 slaves were used for the canal’s construction, the project was abandoned after Emperor Nero passed away because of the region’s rocky terrain. The Suez Canal was completed in 1869, and this led to a resurgence of interest in the Corinth Canal. The project began in 1882 after the French were granted the right to build the canal in exchange for a 99-year operating license. But eight years after the project began, the accountable business filed for bankruptcy. This time, a Greek company was hired to finish the canal, and it was finished in 1893, 11 years after it had first begun. The Corinth Canal was designed to handle a total of 4 million tons of cargo per year when it was still being built. However, by 1906, the canal could only handle 500,000 tons of traffic. The channel’s narrowness is primarily to blame for this. Additionally, because the rocks on either side of the canal are weak, rocks are constantly rolled into the canal, necessitating frequent maintenance. For all these reasons, even though ships have a 700 km route advantage thanks to the Corinth Canal, it has not been a crucial channel that is frequently used like the Panama and Suez Canals.
The canal was severely damaged by the Germans as they evacuated Greece in 1944, and it was closed for four years as a result. There is one-way traffic in the channel because it is quite narrow. In other words, at any given time, only one-way ship passage is permitted. There are no partitions in the Corinth Canal like there are in the Panama and Suez Canals because the sea levels at both ends of the canal are the same. Instead, the canal is one continuous piece that resembles a tunnel.
The Corinth Canal’s commercial value has completely vanished as a result of the growth in ship size and tonnage. However, approximately 15,000 ship channels, particularly tourist excursion boats and yachts, are used today because of its natural beauty and intriguing structure. Although a project to increase canal use was included in the strategic plan for the years 2013–2016, the project was temporarily shelved due to Greece’s economic crisis. The Corinth Canal is now exclusively used for tourist purposes.