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Corinth, or Korinth (Greek Κόρινθος, Kórinthos( ) is a city in Greecemarker. In antiquity it was a city-state, on the Isthmus of Corinthmarker, the narrow stretch of land that joins the Peloponnesusmarker to the mainland of Greece. To the west of the isthmus lies the Gulf of Corinthmarker, to the east lies the Saronic Gulfmarker. Corinth is about southwest of Athensmarker. The isthmus, which was in ancient times traversed by hauling ships over the rocky ridge on sledges, is now cut by a canal.

Corinth is now the capital of the prefecture of Corinthia. The city is surrounded by the coastal townlets of (clockwise) Lechaio, Isthmia, Kechries, and the inland townlets of Examiliamarker and the archaeological site. Geophysically the city is likewise surrounded by the narrow coastal plain of Vocha, Corinthian Gulf, Corinth Canalmarker, Saronic Gulf, Oneia mountains, and the monolithic rock of Acrocorinthmarker where the medieval acropolis was built.


Prehistoric era

The city was founded in the Neolithic Age, circa 6000 BC. According to 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).

Before the end of the Mycenaeanmarker period 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 Antiriomarker.

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, Tirynsmarker or Pylosmarker. 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 Corinthians participated under the leadership of Agamemnon.

Just before the beginning of the classical period, the trireme was developed here. This ship design would become widespread in the navies of the Mediterraneanmarker area until the late Roman period. Corinth took part in the first naval battle on record, against the Hellenic city of Corcyramarker. (Thucydides 1:13)

Classical era

In classical times the ancient city rivaled Athens and Thebesmarker in wealth, based on the Isthmian traffic and trade. Until the mid-6th century Corinth was a major exporter of black-figure pottery to cities around the Greek world. Athenian potters later came to dominate the market. Corinth's great temple on its ancient acropolis was dedicated to the goddess Aphrodite. According to Strabo's "Geography", there were more than one thousand temple prostitutes employed at the Temple of Aphrodite. Corinth was also the host of the Isthmian Games.

In the 7th century BC, when Corinth was ruled by the tyrants Cypselus (r. 657-627 BC) and his son Periander (r. 627-585 BC), the city sent forth colonists to found new settlements: Epidamnus (modern day Durrësmarker, Albaniamarker), Syracusemarker, Ambraciamarker (modern day town of Lefkasmarker), Corcyramarker (modern day town of Corfumarker) and Anactoriummarker. Periander also founded Apolloniamarker in Illyria (modern day Fiermarker, Albania) and Potidaeamarker (in Chalcidicemarker). Corinth was also one of the nine Greek sponsor-cities to found the colony of Naukratismarker in Ancient Egypt. Naucratis was founded to accommodate the increasing trade volume between the Greek world and the pharaohnic Egypt, during the reign of Pharaoh Psammetichus I of the 26th dynasty.

Periander was considered one of the Seven Wise Men of Greece. During his reign the first Corinthian coins were struck. He was the first to attempt to cut across the Isthmus to create a seaway to allow ship traffic between the Corinthian and the Saronic Gulf. He abandoned the venture due to the extreme technical difficulties he met, but he created the Diolkosmarker (a stone-build overland ramp) instead. The era of the Cypselids, ending with Periander's nephew Psammetichus, named after the hellenophile Egyptian Pharaoh Psammetichus I (see above), was the golden age of the city of Corinth.

During this era Corinthians developed the Corinthian order, the third order of the classical architecture after the Ionic and the Doric. The Corinthian order was the most complicated of the three, showing the accumulation of wealth and the luxurious lifestyle in the ancient city-state, while the Doric order was analogous to the strict and simplistic lifestyle of the older Dorians like the Spartans, and the Ionic was a balance between those two following the philosophy of harmony of Ionians like the Athenians.

Horace is quoted as saying: "non licet omnibus adire Corinthum", which translates as "Not everyone is able to go to Corinth", due to the expensive living standards that prevailed in the city. The city was renowned for the temple prostitutes of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, who served the wealthy merchants and the powerful officials living in or traveling in and out of the city. The most famous of them, Lais, was said to have extraordinary abilities and charged tremendous fees for her favours.

The city had two main ports, one in the Corinthian Gulf and one in the Saronic Gulf, serving the trade routes of the western and eastern Mediterraneanmarker, respectively. In the Corinthian Gulf lay Lechaion, which connected the city to its western colonies (Greek: apoikoiai) and Magna Graecia, while in the Saronic Gulf the port of Kenchreai served the ships coming from Athens, Ionia, Cyprusmarker and the rest of the Levant. Both ports had docks for the large war fleet of the city-state.

The city was a major participant in the Persian Wars, offering 40 war ships in the sea Battle of Salamis under the admiral Adeimantos and 5,000 hoplites (wearing their characteristic Corinthian helmets ) in the following Battle of Plataea but afterwards was frequently an enemy of Athens and an ally of Spartamarker in the Peloponnesian League. In 431 BC, one of the factors leading to the Peloponnesian War was the dispute between Corinth and Athens over the Corinthian colony of Corcyra (Corfu), which probably stemmed from the traditional trade rivalry between the two cities.

After the end of the Peloponnesian War, Corinth and Thebes, which were former allies with Sparta in the Peloponnesian League, had grown dissatisfied with the hegemony of Sparta and started the Corinthian War against it, which further weakened the city-states of the Peloponnese. This weakness allowed for the subsequent invasion of the Macedonians of the north and the forging of the Corinthian League by Philip II of Macedon against the Persian Empire.

In the 4th century BC, Corinth was home to Diogenes of Sinope, one of the world's best known cynics.

Roman era

Roman fountain

The Romans under Lucius Mummius destroyed Corinth following a siege in 146 BC; when he entered the city Mummius put all the men to the sword and sold the women and children into slavery before he torched the city, for which he was given the cognomen Achaicus as the conqueror of the Achaean League (see Battle of Corinth). While there is archeological evidence of some minimal habitation in the years afterwards, Julius Caesar refounded the city as Colonia laus Iulia Corinthiensis in 44 BC shortly before his assassination. Under the Romans, it became the seat of government for Southern Greecemarker or Achaiamarker (according to ) and was noted for its wealth.

When the apostle Paul first visited the city (AD 51 or 52), Gallio, the brother of Seneca, was proconsul. Paul resided here for eighteen months (see Acts 18:1-18). Here he first became acquainted with Aquila and Priscilla, and soon after his departure Apollos came from Ephesusmarker.

Paul visited Corinth for a "second benefit" (see 2 Corinthians 1:15), and remained for three months, according to Acts 20:3. During this second visit in the spring of 58 it is likely the Epistle to the Romans was written.

Paul also wrote two of his epistles to the Christian community at Corinth, the First Epistle to the Corinthians and the Second Epistle to the Corinthians. The first Epistle reflects the difficulties of maintaining a Christian community in such a cosmopolitan city.

Byzantine era

The city was destroyed by an earthquake in 375 and again in 551. During Alaric's invasion of Greece, in 395–396, Corinth was one of the cities he despoiled, selling many of its citizens into slavery.

During the reign of Byzantine emperor Justinian I, a large stone wall was erected from the Saronic to the Corinthian gulf, protecting the city and the Peloponnesean peninsula from the barbarian invasions of the north. The stone wall was about six miles (10 km) long and was named Examilion (exi=six in Greek). During this era Corinth was the seat of the Thema of Hellas (representing modern day Greecemarker).

In November 856, an earthquake in Corinth killed an estimated 45,000.

In the 12th century (during the reign of the Comnenus dynasty), the wealth of the city, generated from the silk trade to the Latin states of western Europe, attracted the attention of the Sicilian Normans under Roger of Sicily, who plundered it in 1147.

Principality of Achaea

In 1204, Geoffrey I de Villehardouin, nephew of the homonymous famous historian of the Fourth Crusade, was granted Corinth after the sack of Constantinoplemarker, with the title of Prince of Achaea. From 1205-1208 the Corinthians resisted the Frankish domination from their stronghold in Acrocorinth, under the command of the Greek general Leo Sgouros. The French knight William of Champlitte led the crusader forces. In 1208 Leo Sgouros killed himself by riding off the top of Acrocorinth, but from 1208 to 1210 the Corinthians continued to resist the enemy forces. After the collapse of the resistance and for the years to come, Corinth became a full part of the Principality of Achaea, governed by the Villehardouin's from their capital in Andravidamarker of Elis. Corinth was the last significant town of Achaea on its northern borders with another crusader state, the Duchy of Athens. The Byzantines reconquered the city and it became part of the despotate of Morea in 1388. The Ottomans captured it in 1395. The Byzantines captured it again in 1403. Theodore II Plaiologos, who was Despot of Morea, built the Hexamilion wallmarker across the Isthmus of Corinthmarker.

Ottoman Rule

In 1458, five years after the final Fall of Constantinople, the Turks of the Ottoman Empire conquered the city and its mighty castle. The Ottomans renamed it Gördes. It became the Sanjak centre of Morea in Rumelia Province. The Venetians captured it in 1687 and it fell under the control of the Republic of Venicemarker according to Treaty of Karlowitz in 1699. Ottomans retook the city in 1715. It was the capital of Mora Province between 1715-1731 and the Sanjak centre between 1731-1821.


During the Greek War of Independence, 1821-1830 the city was destroyed by the Turkish forces. The city was officially liberated in 1832 after the Treaty of London. In 1833, the site was considered among the candidates for the new capital city of the recently founded Kingdom of Greece, due to its historical significance and strategic position. Athens, then an insignificant town, was chosen instead.

Modern Corinth

Coat of Arms of the Municipality of Corinth.

In 1858, the old city of Corinth (now known as Αρχαία Κόρινθος / Ancient Corinth; a town SW of the modern city) was totally destroyed by an earthquake. It was rebuilt after a further earthquake in 1928 and again after a great fire in 1933. The new city of Corinth was founded on the coast of the Gulf of Corinth. Corinth is the second largest city in the periphery of Peloponnese after Kalamatamarker (53,659 inh. in 2001). In the census of 1991 the city had a population of 28,071 while latest data 2001 showed an increase of 2,363 inhabitants (+8,4%) to 30,434. Between the census of 1981 and that of 1991 the city had one of the fastest-increasing populations in the country.

The Municipality of Corinth or Dimos Korinthion had a population of 36,991 in 2001. The municipality includes the town of Ancient Corinth (1,770 inh.), where the ancient and the medieval city used to be built at the foothills of the rock of Acrocorinth 3 km from the new city centre, the town of Examilia (1,547 inh.), and the smaller settlements of Xylokeriza (777 inh.) and Solomos (686 inh.).

The Corinth Canalmarker, carrying ship traffic between the western Mediterranean and the Aegean Seamarker, is about 4 km east of the city, cutting through the Isthmus of Corinthmarker.

A city square is located next to its portmarker. The port operates north of the square, and serves the local needs of industry and agriculture. It is mainly a cargo exporting facility. The town centre is home to some surprisingly glamorous shops and bars for a relatively small town, as well as high quality local leather and jewellery outlets.

Corinth is a major industrial hub at a national level. Copper cables, petroleum products, medical equipment, marble, gypsum, ceramic tiles, salt, mineral water & beverages, meat products, and gums are produced nearby. As of 2005, a period of de-industrialization has commenced as a large pipework complex, a textile factory and a meat packing facility disrupted their operations.

A large oil-refinery complex is situated about 12 km northeast of the city, which some think is the line marking the Athens metro area. The complex is amongst the largest in the eastern Mediterranean. It is surrounded by Greece Interstate 8A and a 3+1 lanes per direction freeway. A modern rest area with restaurants and gas stations is located nearby on the freeway.

The city is the terminal point of an electric railway line (Proastiakos) to the Athens metropolitan area. This was completed in 2008. Expectations for further economic and residential expansion are significant due to this new development.

The city is also a major road hub being the entry point to the Peloponnesian peninsula, the southernmost area of continental Greece.

Port of Corinth

The Port of Corinth is situated close to the northwest entrance of the Corinth Canalmarker, at 37 56.0’ N / 22 56.0’ E (Local Time: [GMT +2]). It is an artificial harbour (depth app. , protected by a concrete mole (length app. 930 metres, width 100 metres, mole surface 93,000 m2) in front of the town of Corinth. A new pier finished in the late 1980s doubled the capacity of the port. The reinforced mole protects anchored vessels from strong northern winds. The port facilities are well protected around their perimeter by high iron fences.

Within the port a customs office facility and a Hellenic Coast Guard post operate 24/7. Sea traffic is limited to trade in the export of local produce, mainly citrus fruits, grapes, marbles, aggregates and some (less) domestic imports. The Port of Corinth operates as a contingency facility for general cargo ships, bulk carriers and ROROs, in case of strike at Piraeusmarker port. There is a ferry line (RORO) connecting Corinth to Italymarker.


The city's association football team is Korinthos F.C. (Π.Α.E. Κόρινθος) established in 1999 after the merger of the Pankorinthian Football Club (Παγκορινθιακός) and the Corinth Football Club (Κόρινθος). During the 2006-2007 season, the team played in the Greek Fourth Division's Regional Group 7. The team went undefeated that season and it earned the top spot. This granted the team a promotion to the Gamma Ethnikí for the 2007-2008 season. For the 2008-2009 season, Korinthos F.C. competed in the Gamma Ethniki (Third Division) southern grouping.

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Corinth is twinned with:

See also

List of traditional Greek place names

Notable people




Partial text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897


  1. The temple of Aphrodite was so rich that it owned more than a thousand temple-slaves, courtesans, whom both men and women had dedicated to the goddess, and therefore it was also on account of these women that the city was crowded with people and grew rich. For instance, the ship-captains freely squandered their money and hence the proverb, "Not for every man is the voyage to Corinth." Geography

External links

External references

  • British Admiralty charts:BA1085, BA1093, BA1600

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