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The Diolkos Trackway In Greece Is An Ancient Relic Of Human Will Power

The Diolkos Trackway Across The Corinth Canal Is Evidence Of The Mighty Ancient Greece

History has so many secrets, and so much mystery. Such is the case with the intriguing and strange story of Diolkos, which was the precursor to the modern railway.

The Diolkos was a limestone trackway built in Ancient Greece to transport boats across the Isthmus of Corinth. The pathway was used to get massive ships across the narrow stretch of land so they could avoid a treacherous water passing, which took much longer.

Image: @Credit: NASA Public Domain

Because of this, the ships were able to access the crucial Port of Piraeus, which was close to Athens. The rulers who made the decisions surrounding this iconic pathway essentially cut the trip down from a dangerous 700 km boat ride to a short 6.4 km land journey.

Diolkos remains a reminder of the fortitude of Ancient Greece. Historians believe it was built around the 6th century B.C. This was the time when Periander was tyrant of Corinth.

Image: @gr_captures on Instagram

Humans Have A Funny Habit Of “Creating” Their Own Route

Modern Corinth Canal. Image: @eva.bei on Instagram

It’s incredible actually that they were able to build this passageway so long ago. Especially when you consider that there were boats transported across a wide stretch of land with human and animal strength.

The authorities in charge of building the Diolkos knew that the pathway would serve two purposes. It helped increase productivity of transporting supplies and goods, as well as speed up naval campaigns.

When the payoff is high like that, humans have a way of finding any way to make it work!

The Construction Of The Limestone Trackway Is Actually Somewhat Of A Mystery 

Image: @cnngreece on Instagram

The pathway that connected the two bodies of water is considered to be one of the greatest technical feats of antiquity. An ambitious engineering project, there’s actually not much known about its creation.

Surprisingly, even the dates surrounding the main decision to build the pathway are foggy. We know it’s old. We know that the tyrant Periander is often given credit for its creation. And we also know that when the Greek historian Thucydides (460 BC – 395 BC) talked about it, he was already describing it as ancient.

Other than that, we know the purpose of it, and can only take guesses as to how it was used. The Diolkos was about six metres wide, paved of hard limestone, and ran for nearly 7 km. Ships were likely placed on a wheeled platform and dragged across the length of land that went from one port to another.

Diolkos Is Finally Being Restored Today

Image: @ancientgreecetours
on Instagram

The ancient cobblestone Diolkos is now being restored. Because it runs parallel to the modern Corinth Canal, it can serve as a tourist attraction.

Efforts around reconstruction are geared towards promoting the roadway, which will be made available for on-site tours.

Visiting The Ancient Site

Image: @castertech on Instagram

If you’d like to visit the remains of Diolkos, you’re best to go to the eastern shore of Isthmus. There’s a submersible bridge at Poseidonia near the Corinthian Gulf that has a sign marking the pathway.

This, of course, is only a short section of the road. You’ll want to do your research before you go, as a large section of the path is enclosed in the Greek Military Engineering School. Because of this, you’ll need to request permission to access it.

There’s always the option as well to go on a guided tour.

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