Sunday 7 September 2014

The Isthmus of Corinth

In order to get to the Peloponnese we had to drive over the canal of the Isthmus of Corinth.

(image taken from here)

The Corinth Canal connects mainland Greece in the north to the Peloponnese Peninsula in the south. It's 6.3 kilometres long and cuts through the narrow Isthmus of Corinth effectively making the former peninsula an island. For centuries, ships had to travel an extra 340 kilometres between the Gulf of Corinth and the Saronic Gulf. The building of the canal in the late 19th century shortened ships' journeys.

(image taken from here).
The Isthmus appears as a razor-thin blue strip running diagonally through the land.

The builders dug the canal through the Isthmus at sea level, no locks are employed. It's 21.4 metres wide at its base, making it impassable for most modern ships and has consequently little economic importance today.

The idea of the Corinth canal appealed for more than 2,000 years. Fear of opposing the wishes of the god Poseidon was said to play a role in preventing the canal's construction. The ancient Greeks built an alternative: the Diolkos, a limestone paved path on which a wheeled vehicle ran. Ships were lifted onto the vehicle that pulled them across the path. An alternative was to unload the cargo of a ship, transport it across the land bridge, and then load the cargo on to a different ship waiting at the other end.

We then drove to Isthmia at the east side of the Isthmus, on the edge of the Saronic Gulf, the site of an ancient city.

We wanted to see the sinking bridge.

There are two sinking bridges, one at each end of the Canal and they are unique in Greece. They lower themselves under the water to allow a passing boat to cross above them.

A side view

Near the sinking bridge we saw this gorgeous little church

'Less is more', said Mies Van der Rohe, and this little church is a testament to that statement: minimal, with simple lines, it's stunningly beautiful.



  1. I find the idea of the sinking bridge delightful. I did not know about it. I love the little church too.

  2. I feel exactly the same Olga, and delight is the right word. I was so delighted by it, and kept thinking about it all the way to Kalamata. My sister took us to Isthmia because she wanted to show me where my dad used to like to go and sit when he was doing excavations in the area, but it was the bridge that was the star of that particular stop. The little church was an added bonus.

  3. The church is rather like a ceramic.