We had travelled to Corinth with some family friends who live in Athens. Along the way, we stopped by the famous Corinth canal. I had learned about it in class, conducted some research and had been told about it by our Greek companions. Piecing together all this information I came up with the following: The idea of building a canal connecting the western sea to the eastern sea of Greece dates back to the ancient Greeks. They originally wanted to create a shortcut for ships as an alternative to sailing around the Peloponnesus. There were several attempts by ancient Greeks and Romans since the 7th century BC, all of which ended in failure.
The idea experienced a revival shortly after the formation of the Modern Greek state. Ioannis Kapodistrias, founder of the Greek state, was the first to demonstrate significant interest in the canals construction since ancient times. However, due to lack of funds the project was postponed numerous decades. Several French, Hungarian and Greek companies attempted the project, most going bankrupt. It was finally constructed in 1893 several thousand years after the original idea. After its completion, its economic usefulness was deemed a failure. It is too narrow for cargo ships to safely navigate and thus the canal experienced much less traffic than anticipated.
Today it is mainly used as a tourist attraction. There is also bungee jumping available for the adventurous. Although tempting, I had just finished eating plenty of gyros and wasn’t entirely certain the cord could support my extra weight. I decided to pass on the bungee jumping and save it for another time.
The Corinth Canal is quite a marvelous site, approximately 6 and a half kilometers in length. Historically it represents the Greek government’s mismanagement of funds and dependence on tourism. If you are in the area, I recommend stopping by, it is a site worth seeing.
One film which comically depicts the mismanagement of funds is called “Brazilero” where E.U. money is spent to buy a Brazilian soccer player for a Greek soccer team.
Another interesting perspective on the Greece’s mismanagement of funds and the Euro crisis is given by Yanis Varoufakis, a professor at the University of Athens. One key idea is that the Greek people have been given more than their fair share of the blame in the crisis. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRRWaEPRlb4