Everyone has heard of the Panama Canal and the Suez Canal - both massive feats of engineering (and everyone should visit the impressive Panama Canal). But has anyone heard of the - even more eye-catching - Corinth Canal in Greece? The Corinth Canal connects the Gulf of Corinth in the Ionian Sea with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea.

The Corinth Canal dramatically slices its way down through the narrow Isthmus of Corinth that separates the Peloponnese from the Greek mainland. That means that the Peloponnese Peninsula (with ancient Sparta that one can still see its ruins) is technically now an island.

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A Canal Dreamt of In Ancient Times

The canal had been proposed since classical times but it was never built. The isthmus was first crossed by boats in 600 BC when Periander (a tyrant of Ancient Corinth) built a ship railway so that small boats could be carried on wheeled cradles running in grooves.

  • Periander: Built A Slipway To Drag Ships Overland
  • Peloponnese: Technically An Island

At first, Periander dreamed of a canal, but he was defeated by the enormity of the task and so settled on building the paved slipway instead. Sailors dragged small ships on rollers, a method that was still used until the 13th century.

Even Alexandar the Great and later Caligula toyed with the idea of building a canal here.

  • Failed Attempt: There Was A Failed Attempt During Roman Times By Emperor Nero
  • Nero: Landed The First Blow With A Golden Pickaxe

But it was Roman Emperor Nero who struck the first blow himself (with a golden pickaxe in AD 67) and then promptly left it to the 6,000 Jewish slaves to do the rest of the work. But this mammoth Roman project was soon detailed by Gallic invasions for 1800 years.

The Corinth Canal Finally Built In The 19th Century

Finally, the project got underway in 1881 by the French (that was after the Suez Canal had been built in 1859). But it soon found itself hampered by financial problems and the engineering nightmare of the geology. Those factors forced the first financiers into bankruptcy.

  • Built: Between 1881 and 1893

The canal was eventually completed in 1893 but was never much of a success. It proved too narrow, too difficult to navigate, and had to be closed from time to time due to landslides from its steep walls. Consequently, it failed to attract the number of ships that had been anticipated.

Related: History Of The Athenian Acropolis And Why It's Still One Of The World's Greatest Treasures

The Impressive Corinth Canal Today

"The Corinth Canal is an engineering marvel. A project that spanned many centuries, it was conceived by a ruler of Ancient Corinth, begun by Roman emperor Nero, and completed in the 19th century by the French."

Lonely Planet

The canal is certainly a sight to behold. It cuts straight through solid rock and the vertical walls tower 90 meters above the water.

Whereas the Panama Canal raises and lowers the ships with a series of locks, the Corinth Canal has been dug all the way down to sea level and is completely devoid of locks. This makes it a truly eye-catching sight to see ships passing through flanked by the sheer walls of the canal.

  • Connects: The Gulf of Corinth With The Saronic Gulf (The Ionian Sea With The Aegean Sea)
  • Locks: There Are No Locks And Has Been Dug Down To Sea Level

The canal is 4 miles or 6.4 kilometers long and only 21.4 meters or 70 feet wide. That narrowness makes it too narrow for many wide modern ships. Today it has lost most of its economic importance and is mostly a tourist attraction.

  • Length: 4 miles or 6.4 Kilometers
  • Width: 70 Feet or 21.4 Meters
  • Water Depth: 8 Meters or 26 Feet

Related: Planning A Vacation To Greece? This Is How You Should Budget Your Time There

How To See It And Jump In It

To see the Corinth Canal, one can just drive to it or take a bus to it. Alternatively, one can get a boat cruise that goes through it - boat trips run from Loutraki. If one does have one's own transport, then go to Isthmia to the submersible bridge and wait and watch the procedure as ships come through.

But perhaps the most adventurous way to experience it is by jumping into it. Zulu Bungy is one's ticket to jump straight off the bridge into the canal. This heart-stopping adventure has been operating since 1991 and since 2002 in the Corinth Canal.

The Corinth Canal is arguably one of the most exciting places in the world for those who seek fun and adventure.

Prices: 

  • Zulu Standard: Jump + Recording= 80€ ($88)
  • Zulu Package: Jump+ Recording 80€- Second Jump Back2Back+ Recording 40€
  • Season Offer: 10 Jumps 400€ ($440)
  • Hours: From 10.00 am to 6.00 pm on The Days They are Open - See Their Calendar

Next: These Greek Islands Are Worth Your Vacation Time, And None Of Them Are Santorini Or Athens