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Greece Reopens Corinth Canal for the Tourist Season

Corinth Canal reopening
Sailing through the Corinth Canal started on Thursday. Credit: Greek Reporter/Tony Cross

Authorities in Greece announced that the Corinth Canal that connects the Gulf of Corinth in the Ionian Sea with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea reopened on Thursday for the summer period and will remain so until September.

The second phase of the restoration of the Corinth Canal ended last week following the catastrophic landslides that occurred in November 2020 as well as in January and February 2021.

From October 1, the works will enter the final stage and it is estimated that in February 2024 the canal will return to normal 24-hour operation.

The Canal closed to marine traffic in October 2022 after operating without interruption and with safety throughout last summer and recorded its best performance in the last twenty years.

“This proves the importance of the Canal’s operation as well as its crucial role for maritime traffic, tourism growth and the upgrading of the area,” the Corinth Canal Company said at the time.

Specifically, 6,001 vessels from seventy different countries navigated the canal from the day it reopened on July 4, 2022.

Corinth Canal reopening after landslides

The closure of the Corinth Canal due to the landslides has been disastrous for transport and tourism in Greece.

In February 2021, a landslide forced authorities to stop the operation of the Corinth Canal. Restoration began, but in July, new landslides put a stop to the work altogether.

The landslides were particularly destructive, as massive boulders from the side of the Peloponnese fell into the canal.

Opened on July 25, 1893, the Corinth Canal is one of the most important infrastructure projects of the modern Greek state, instantly changing all major maritime activity in the country.

Construction began in 1882, and the canal was inaugurated by then Prime Minister Sotirios Sotiropoulos. Yet, it was completed by his predecessor Charilaos Trikoupis, whose term had ended only two months prior to that date.

Before the canal was built, ships from the Ionian Sea headed to Athens or the Aegean islands had to go around the Peloponnese and vice versa.

It is 6.4 kilometres (4 miles) in length and only 24.6 metres (80.7 feet) wide at sea level, making it impassable for many modern ships.

The canal was initially proposed in classical times and a failed effort was made to build it in the 1st century AD. Construction recommenced 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.

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