The spectacular canal that was 2,500 years in the making

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CNN  — 

Under the blue skies of Greece, a giant vessel slowly makes its way through the rocky walls of a narrow, artificial waterway, with just a few inches to spare on either side, while those on board take in the engineering marvel in front of them.

The very first sailings through the Corinth Canal, one of the most significant infrastructural feats the world had ever seen, took place in 1893, fulfilling a vision that had been at least 2,500 years in the making.

The canal cut through the isthmus of Corinth in Greece, linking the Ionian Sea with the Aegean, effectively turning the Peloponnese peninsula into an island, and creating an international maritime hub that transformed navigation in southern Europe.

Crucially, it saved ships the nearly 321-kilometer (300 mile) journey around the plane tree leaf-shaped cape, allowing them to reach ports further east much faster and safer.