+ Cycladia Travel Guides | History


The initial name of the town of Corinth was Ephira as it was named after the daughter of Oceanus who established the town. So, the area around Corinth was named Ephirea at the time.

However, later on, Ephirea was divided in two and it was given to the two children of Ephira: Aloeas and Aeitis. When Aeitis left for Kolchida, he left his share to Vounos, the son of Hermes, who in turn left his share to Aeitis’ nephew, Epopeas. When Epopeas died, Ephirea belonged to his grandchildren, Sikionas and Corinth. Corinth was a popular hero at the time and the area was finally named after him.

Another explanation of the name of Corinth is that in the Pelasgian dialect (the Pelasgians were the first inhabitants of the area in the Prehistoric Era), “Corinth” means link, intersection; and Corinth is exactly the place were two seas and two parts of land intersect.  

Prehistoric times
Corinth was inhabited in the 6th millennium B.C. and the most renowned prehistoric settlements were situated in Korakos, Aetopetra, Lechaio, Arapitsa and Akrocorinthos. The first Corinth’s inhabitants were the Pelasgians, followed by the Phoenicians, who introduced livestock and the worship of god Melkarth and goddess Aphrodite. Around 2000 B.C., Achaioi and Aeolians dominated the area, until Dorians arrived in 1000 B.C. The Dorians established aristocracy (oligarchy) as the system of governance in Corinth. In the 12th century B.C. Corinth participated in the Trojan War.
Ancient Times and Classical / Hellenistic Times

During the Ancient Times Corinth was powerful and prosperous. The inhabitants’ activities were agriculture, commerce and maritime. Oligarchy was still the system of governance and the dynasty of Vackhides was dominant in the 8th century B.C. and the first half of the 7th century B.C.. The triremes of Corinth controlled the seas and transported products and people to several different places; this is the time that Corinth established colonies in Syracuse (Italy), Corfu (Ionian Sea-western Greece) and Potidaia (Halkidiki-northern Greece). However, starting from 700 B.C., Corinth had to face competition in the sea coming from Athens and Corfu. In 657 B.C., Kipselos became the first tyrant of Corinth.

From mid-4th century B.C. till mid-3rd century B.C. Corinth belonged to the Macedonians but it was rather free and the inhabitants were very active in maritime, commerce and artisanship. Afterwards, it became part of the Achaean confederation.

Roman Times

The Roman general Mommius conquered and destroyed Corinth in 146 B.C.. The town was completely ruined and burnt down, male inhabitants were killed whereas women and children were sold as slaves. The town remained uninhabited till 44 B.C., when Julius Cesar decided to build a new city on the ruins of the old one and gave it a significant role in the Roman Empire by making it the centre of governance of the northern Peloponnese. In 67 A.D. Neron organized a celebration related to the initiation of the works for the Canal of Corinth but the process stopped when he died.

The visit of Saint Peter in 52 A.D. helped establish Christianity in the wider area and also in Greece.
During the Roman Times, Corinth was very prosperous; but with the fall of the Roman Empire the town was destroyed again by the Goths and the Heruli.

Byzantine Times
In the Byzantine Times Corinth was powerful and of strategic importance; not only was it the capital of the Peloponnese, but for a period of time, it was also the capital of the Byzantine Greece. During the reign of Justinian the town was several times attacked by barbarians and Justinian built the Justinian Wall called “Examillion”, part of which is still standing today. In the middle of the 12 century A.D. Corinth was destroyed once again by the Normans.
Venetian Times
In 1208 the Francs conquered Corinth and this was the beginning of a difficult period; the area was inherited and gifted several times to different sovereigns, until it was given in 1358 to the Florentine nobleman Nicholas Atsagioli. His heirs sold it in 1395 to the Knights of Rhodes and took it back in 1408. But the town was already in decline and nothing reminded of its glory and power during Roman Times.
The Ottoman Period
The Ottoman Era began in 1458, when Mahmut Pasas conquered Corinth, and lasted till 1822, with a short break from 1699 to 1715 when the Venetians took over. The years from 1715 to 1822 were very difficult and violent. After Greece’s liberation, Corinth was -along with Nafplio and Athens- a candidate capital of Greece.
Recent history

Today, Corinth is a lively city with almost 60,000 inhabitants, while the prefecture of Corinthia has about 150,000 inhabitants. Despite its destruction by earthquakes (in 1858 and 1928) twice, it has been rebuilt and its canal attracts a plethora of tourists from all over the world.The prefecture ofCorinthia is famous for its wines and raisins, and agriculture, along with tourism, is among the top occupations of its inhabitants. The area hosts an industrial zone and refineries, as well as dazzling beaches, exceptional mountainous resorts and multiple accommodation choices.

Corinthia prefecture is a diversified destination featuring seaside towns and settlements while its mountainous part, Orini Corinthia, boasts some of the best winter destinations like Trikala, Feneos and Gkoura for unique escapes within snowy mountains, lakes, fir forests and rivers.  

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