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E + 26 : Corinth - Greece's Center of Gravity

Panoramic View from Acrocorinth - Perfect for Monitoring Both Sides of the Isthmus

Another early day today. We wanted to visit Acrocorinth, the fortress 650 meters above sea level, and ancient Corinth. It would be another hot day today. 43 C are forecasted for lunchtime. The Archeological Park announced to close at 12 am. Is it to protect the staff from heat strokes? Or maybe the stones from melting? Who knows? Poor tourists who show up at 12.05 h! There are not that many visitors though. For the first time we heard French and American English. Since we entered Greece a week ago, we only met local tourists. It is lovely to have Greece to ourselves but definitely not so good for the Greek economy.

The Rock of Acrocorinth towering over ancient Corinth

Climbing the fortress of Acrocorinth was a lecture in architecture. Looking at the walls from bottom to top, there were first the big, solid limestone blocks from classical Greek time, followed by layers of Roman bricks, stones and cement (they had to repair the fortress they destroyed in 146 BC), the next layer was medieval put on by Frankish Crusaders and Venetian Governors. The last layers were from the Ottoman who added gun emplacements on the top. The Ottoman stayed here until 1823 when the Greeks forced them to evacuate the place during the War of Independence.

The Walls are almost a Text book in Archeologic History

Did not occur to me that both the Venetians and the Ottoman were so vested in this place here. Always thought that Corinth lost its strategic value with the demise of the Roman Empire in 476 AD. But I must be wrong. Nobody builds expensive fortresses for the sake of noting. The shortcut from the Ionian to the Aegean Sea via Gulf of Corinth must have been in use almost into modern times.

The Ottoman added Gun Positions to the Walls

We already noticed the elaborate fortress of Lepanto which we climbed two days ago. Found neither information about the medieval traffic in the Gulf of Corinth nor how the transfer across the isthmus worked. The Greek pull way, the Diolkos, had fallen in disrepair a long time ago and was too small for medieval ships. Later, down at the site of ancient Corinth, we noticed a hospital built during the crusades. Maybe the shortcut was mostly used by people.

Found these old Frescos in the charming, now Orthodox

Chapel inside Acrocorinth - Must been from 14th century

The view from Acro Corinth confirms how rich Corinth was. It was not only a traffic nod sitting on the East – West, North – South cross in the middle of Greece. It also was a center for agricultural production. Thousands of amphorae with olive oil, wine and honey must have changed hands here. Coins from many parts of the Hellenistic world were found in Corinth’s exchange stalls. Forests nearby provided wood for building an impressive fleet. After Athens, Corinth had the second largest fleet in ancient Greece. The City was wealthy and powerful. It is not by accident that Corinth was the parent town to 14 successful colonies – some of them like Syracuse became 3 times larger than Corinth.

Temple of Apollo built in 550 BC - the same time the

Temples in Selinunte and Syracuse were built

Corinth held such a prominent position amongst Greek cities of the Archean League that the Roman General Mummius destroyed it in 146 BC to eliminate its influence. Men were put to the sword, women and children sold into slavery; the town levelled to the ground. For 100 years Corinth remained a ghost town.

This Painting of the Sack of Corinth from Tony Fleury dates from 1870

In 44 BC though, Julius Caesar rediscovered the strategic value of its location, founded a military colony and rebuilt the town. When we visit Corinth’s ruins today, we visit a Roman town. The elaborate town plan tells us how important it was during Roman time.

This is the magnificent town plan of Roman Corinth

In Corinth’s Agora, there is a podium from where Apostle Paul apparently preached during the 18 months he stayed here. Of course, nobody knows whether he really was allowed to use the most prominent spot in town. But it makes a good story. After he went on to Ephesus, the Christian community he founded started to quarrel. His letters to the Corinthians address the issues they debated. Paul’s letters play an instrumental part in the formation of the Christian Creed – what it was, and what it was not. The thought that an important part of our believes were formed far away from Palestine is interesting. There is more Greek philosophy in the Bible than we think.

The Podium from where Saint Paul, the Apostle, addressed his new Community

Back at the boat we were looking forward to some swimming. The heat on land was unbearable. The pleasure lasted about half an hour when a strong gale came up and forced everybody back on the boat.

The 30 min pleasure swim ...

Weather reports indicated it would die down towards the evening except that it did not. The gale brought the smoke and haze from the forest fires in the Peloponnese. The sun set early in the haze above the sea.

Sun is setting in a Haze - we can smell the Smoke from the Forest Fires in the Pelopponese

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