Corinth Canal

Corinth Canal
"Canal de Corinto" by Guillén Pérez is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0
Canal de Corinthe, Péloponnèse, Grèce

Corinth Canal Greece towards the Ionian Sea by Air Visual on 500px.com

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Greece · Corinth Canal

The Corinth Canal (Greek: Διώρυγα της Κορίνθου, Dhioryga tis Korinthou) is a canal that connects the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea. It cuts through the narrow Isthmus of Corinth and separates the Peloponnese from the Greek mainland, arguably making the peninsula an island. The builders dug the canal through the Isthmus at sea level; no locks are employed. It is 6.4 kilometers in length and only 21.4 meters wide at its base, making it impassable for most modern ships. It now has little economic importance.

The canal was proposed in classical times and an abortive 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. It is now used mainly for tourist traffic.

The canal consists of a single channel 8 meters deep, excavated at sea level (thus requiring no locks), measuring 6343 meters long by 24.6 meters wide at the top and 21.3 meters wide at the bottom. The rock walls, which rise 90 meters above sea level, are at a near-vertical 80° angle. The canal is crossed by a railway line, a road and a motorway at a height of about 45 meters. In 1988 submersible bridges were installed at sea level at each end of the canal, by the eastern harbour of Isthmia and the western harbour of Poseidonia.

Although the canal saves the 700-kilometer journey around the Peloponnese, it is too narrow for modern ocean freighters, as it can only accommodate ships of a width of up to 17.6 meters and a draft of 7.3 meters. Ships can only pass through the canal one convoy at a time on a one-way system. Larger ships have to be towed by tugs. The canal is nowadays mostly used by tourist ships; around 11000 ships per year travel through the waterway.