Sitting on the isthmus that separates the mainland Greece from the peninsula of Peloponnese, 55 miles west of Athens, Corinth took advantage of its perfect position to control trade in the region and become a major maritime power, founding colonies as far as Sicily. In Roman times it became a city of 300,000 inhabitants, not counting half a million slaves, known for its sophisticated and hedonistic culture. The unassuming face of the modern, small town gives little idea of the importance and influence the city had in the ancient times, but the ruins of the ancient city and the fortress overlooking it remind visitors of its past glories.
Barely more than a place to catch a breath on the way to see the ancient sites, the modern town offers basic amenities for the tourists who need food, accommodation or supplies. There is, however, an extensive pebble beach for those desperate for a swim and numerous tavernas and cafes along the waterfront for those who need a beer or coffee. The marina is attractive -- with good views to the rocky mountains on the other side of the bay -- while in town the Folklore Museum has a collection of costume and traditional interiors. The main Corinth attractions, however, are the ancient remains out of town.
The ruins of the ancient Corinth lie in the eponymous modern village about 5 miles away from the town, easily accessible by taxi or bus. The site itself, still being excavated, has a visit-worthy museum with a good collection of Corinthian pottery and a compact area of mostly Roman ruins. These include the Roman agora with the Lower Peirene fountain house and the Bema, a platform from which St Paul had to defend his case after irritating licentious Corinthians with his preachings in A.D. 52. The highlight of the site, however, is the seven remaining columns of the Doric temple of Apollo, dating to the early period of Corinthian prosperity in sixth-century B.C. Rising on a small hillock above the agora, they dominate the area with their severe beauty.
The limestone crag of Acrocorinth rises relentlessly to 1,855 feet above the Ancient Corinth village and the archaeological site. Take a taxi from the village or face more than 2 miles of a steep climb, and you will be rewarded with splendid views over a vast area and a tour of one of the most impressive fortresses in Greece. The extensive ruins are a hotchpotch of ancient, Byzantine, Frankish, Venetian and Turkish walls, ramparts, towers, gates, houses and chapels. Wander up to the highest point of Acrocorinth to see the early Christian basilica built on the ruins of the temple of Aphrodite, where sacred prostitution had been carried out in the service of the goddess of love in ancient times.
The idea for the canal that would connect the Saronic and the Corinthian gulfs and thus save time and avoid adverse winds sailing around the Peloponnese dates back to the ancient times. It was eventually realized in the 1893. The canal is 70 feet wide and 4 miles long and of little economic importance now, being too narrow for modern ships and used mostly for tourist and leisure vessels. It remains an impressive structure, well worth a look down its almost vertical, 300-feet-high walls hewn from the limestone rock. It's an easy stop on the way from or to Athens, whether by car or on the bus, or a short trip from the town itself.