A surprise… (ancient) city

There are some cities that amaze you, not just because they are amazing on their own, but because you think you know them- emphasis on “you think”. Take Corinth, for example. What is Corinth? You will say it is its Isthmus, its many times sang raisin, or even its ancient History. The richest of the Hellenic cities and the eternal opponent. Opponent, not enemy: The opponent of Athens was Sparta, and for Sparta was Athens, the Corinthians were smarter than that. As the others were fighting, they were getting richer.

You will probably forget to include in your answer that Corinth is its castle, the biggest castle of the entire Peloponnese. And that it is its big sunny squares, the wide well-cared streets that were built from scratch after the big earthquake of 1928, creating a city strikingly designed for Greece’s street plan.

Plus, it is also the lively walkways with their cafés, like the Pylarinou Zografou pedestrian walkway, the statue of Pegasus among the fountains in Floisvos (or Eleftheriou Venizelou Square more officially), the wonderful mosaics on the pavements, works of the painter Efrosini Hastoupi Parousi, the great church of the city’s patron Apostle Paul and the pebbled beach of Kalamia that is one the most decent samples of urban beach in the entire Peloponnese.

Ancient Corinth

Approximately seven kilometers outside Corinth, there is the atmospheric archaeological site and we bet you’re going to love it, even if you don’t really like archaeological sites. The ancient city unravels here its grandeur and its wealth on the large stone-built roads, the glorious temples, from which the 550 B.C. Doric Temple of Apollo stands out, the theatre, the Asklipio, and the Roman Odeon. However, the most amazing of all is the view from here to the Akrocorinthos castle, which imposingly rises above the city, especially during the hour that the sun sets and bathes the city in an orange red color. 


The biggest castle of Peloponnese was fortified for the first time in the ancient times by Periandros of Corinth around the 7th century B.C. and passed many times from hand to hand (it was even sold to the Knights of Malta) that is now hard to classify it in just one historical period and say that “this is a Frankish/ Byzantine/ Venetian/ Ottoman castle”.  It is none of these, but at the same time it is all of them together: It is the Akrocorinthos, a category of a castle on its own.

You can tell that by the first look, as you stare at its imposing walls that reach the three kilometers in length, where you climb the 579 meters of its hill. “Climb” is a figure of speech, since there is a paved road that brings you and your car to the entrance of the castle.


Of course the ancient Corinthians knew that the Isthmus was so narrow that sounded ridiculous for the ships to circumnavigate the entire Peloponnese. Of course they thought that they can make a lot of money out of it! Well, they couldn’t actually dig a Canal, so they did the next best thing: They built the first mean of fixed track, as we could say. A cobbled road from the one side of the Isthmus to the other, on which slaves dragged the ships on top of platforms.  And if you wonder, all these happened in the 6th century B.C.

At some point the Diolkos stopped being used, probably during Nero’s reign, when the works to open the canal (yes, the idea of the canal was that old) destroyed a part of it. Pausanias, who passed by here in the 2nd century A.C., saw only a part of the Diolkos as a sight- the same way you will see it today.

On the other side of the Isthmus, about 8 kilometers from Diolkos, Isthmia definitely worth a visit, both to stare at the greatness of the canal and to visit their archaeological site, in which parts of the Temple of Poseidon, the ancient theatre of the 400 B.C., the stadium, the Roman aqueduct, and a huge, super impressive mosaic in the Roman baths are saved. One of the biggest Roman mosaics that are saved today, which dates back to 150 A.C., depicts animals and gods of sea, and it is attributed to Herodes Atticus- the gentleman with the Odeon in Athens, for whoever needs help remembering who he is. A small but rather interesting museum inside the archaeological site hosts findings from the excavations here.







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