Corinth Canal, Greece

The idea for a shortcut to save boats sailing all round the Peloponnese Peninsula was long considered by the Ancient Greeks. The first attempt to build a canal there was carried out by the tyrant Periander in the 7th century BC but he abandoned the project owing to technical difficulties. When the Romans took control of Greece, a number of different solutions were tried. For example, in AD 67, Emperor Nero ordered 6,000 slaves to dig a canal with spades. According to Pliny the Elder, the work advanced four stadia (about 5/8 kilometers). The following year Nero died, and his successor Galba abandoned the project as being too expensive. In the modern era, the idea was first seriously proposed in 1830, soon after Greece's independence from the Ottoman Empire. It was eventually reaslised in 1893 after eleven years' work.