Peloponnese is very rich in its variety of natural beauty but also in the signs of its long and interesting history. For anyone interested in the ancient or medieval history of Greece Peleponnese is an obvious choice during the winter and spring months. Also for trekking, biking, skiing, and birdwatching the peninsula has a lot to offer.
Corinth is the first stop to the peninsula of Peloponnese when you arrive from northeast by road or train from Athens. Corinth is situated exactly on the other side of the canal, which also carry the name Corinth Canal.
The places of interest in the area of Corinth are, of course, first of all the ancient sites and the canal itself. The ruins in ancient Corinth are in a much poorer shape than those at the Acropolis in Athens and not nearly as overwhelming, but they are much more accessible, too.
Corinth was a city-state (polis)on the Isthmus of Corinth, the narrow stretch of land that joins the Peloponnesus to the mainland of Greece, roughly halfway between Athens and Sparta. The modern town of Corinth is located approximately 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) northeast of the ancient ruins. Since 1896, systematic archaeological investigations of the Corinth Excavations by the American School of Classical Studies at Athens have revealed a large parts of the ancient city, and recent excavations conducted by the Greek Ministry of Culture have brought important new facets of antiquity to light.
Prehistory and founding myths
Neolithic artifacts show that the site of Corinth had been occupied as early as the fifth millennium BC. According to Hellenic myth, the city was founded by Corinthos, a descendant of the god Helios (the Sun), while other myths suggest that it was founded by the goddess Ephyra, a daughter of the Titan Oceanus, thus the ancient name of the city (also Ephyra). There is evidence that the city was destroyed around 2000 BC.
Before the end of the Mycenaean period (1100 BC), the Dorians attempted to settle in Corinth. While at first they failed, their second attempt was successful when their leader, Aletes, followed a different path around the Corinthian Gulf from Antirio.
Some ancient names for the place, such as Korinthos, derive from a pre-Greek, “Pelasgian” language; it seems likely that Corinth was also the site of a Bronze Age Mycenaean palace-city, like Mycenae, Tiryns, Mycenae or Pylos. According to myth, Sisyphus was the founder of a race of ancient kings at Corinth. It was also in Corinth that Jason, the leader of the Argonauts, abandoned Medea. During the Trojan War, the Corinthians participated under the leadership of Agamemnon.
In a Corinthian myth related in the 2nd century AD to Pausanias, Briareus, one of the Hecatonchires, was the arbitrator in a dispute between Poseidon and Helios,between the sea and the sun: his verdict was that the Isthmus of Corinth belonged to Poseidon and the acropolis of Corinth, Acrocorinth, to Helios. Thus Greeks of the Classical age accounted for archaic cult of the sun-titan in the highest part of the site.(citation needed)
The Upper Peirene spring is located within the walls of the acropolis. “The spring, which is behind the temple, they say was the gift of Asopus to Sisyphus.The latter knew, so runs the legend, that Zeus had ravished Aegina, the daughter of Asopus, but refused to give information to the seeker before he had a spring given him on the Acrocorinthus.” (Pausanias, 2.5.1)
During winter you’ll practically have the site to yourselves and in this way it will be much easier to get into the spirit of Corinth. The setting is magnificent at the base of an awesome mountain and you can easily imagine the Corinth that St. Paul visited. The museum is small but of great interest, especially for a visitor interested in Christian history.
Acrocorinth is the big rocky hill that overlooks Corinth and its bay. It is not to be confused with the ruins of ancient Corinth that are found just under it. The hill stands proud and lonely, it can be seen from everywhere around, surrounded by walls. If you love history, just go there… Walking around the steep walls will be a unique experience. At the same wall you’ll see stones of the ancient era at the base, roman stones above them, byzantine stones and ottoman stones at the top. Ancient Corinth is not just a fortified hill, it also is a place that lets you immerse into the history of Greece through the centuries.
Isthmus of Corinth
The Isthmus of Corinth is the narrow land bridge which connects the Peloponnese peninsula with the rest of the mainland of Greece, near the city of Corinth. The word “isthmus” comes from the Ancient Greek word for “neck” and refers to the narrowness of the land. The Isthmus was known in the ancient world as the landmark separating Peloponnese from mainland of Greece.
The Saronic Gulf
To the west of the Isthmus is the Gulf of Corinth, to the east the Saronic Gulf. Since 1893 the Corinth Canal has run through the 6.3 km wide isthmus, effectively making the Peloponnese an island. Today, two road bridges, two railway bridges and two submersible bridges at both ends of the canal connect the mainland side of the isthmus with the Peloponnese side. Also a military emergency bridge is located at the west end of the canal.
How to get to Corinth from Athens?
Corinth is a major road hub, being the entry point to the Peloponnesian peninsula, the southernmost area of continental Greece.
The city has been connected to the Proastiakos, the Athens suburban rail network, since 2005, when the new Corinth railway station was completed.
When you pick a restaurant or a coffee shop be choosy. Corinth is a place with a lot of bypassers all year round, so the locals are used to have a lot of visitors in need of a meal or a cup of coffee. This means that prices in many places are up, but not necessarily the quality! Below you will find our suggestions for accommodation and restaurants – all places that have been reviewed…